Krista Doebel-Hickok is hammering on the roads of Pau alongside her teammates for the third straight day. It’s time. La Course. Through grit and determination they earned a ticket to the big show, and on Friday, July 19th they will compete in the biggest one-day race of the year.
La Course covers the same route as the Tour de France’s stage 13 time trial in southwestern France. Six Rally UHC Cycling riders ready to take on the challenge, the latest event on the UCI Women’s WorldTour calendar.
All-rounders Sara Bergen, Allison Beveridge, and Emma White are prepared for an explosive race and climbers Krista Doebel-Hickok, Abby Mickey, and Sara Poidevin will be on the hunt for breakaways when the road pitches up.
The squad is looking forward to what team director Zach Bell calls “a huge target” for this season.
“The mood is great within the team,” Bell said. “People are excited to get the ball rolling.”
This year’s edition of La Course traverses 121 kilometers across five laps of a hilly circuit that is expected to suit the “punchy” riders – and to deliver action worthy of such a big event.
“The course is challenging, really in every way. We did two laps today and racked up 2,500 feet of elevation gain,” said Krista Doebel-Hickok, who completed a recon of the route with her teammates on Wednesday. “I think this course is for an all-around strong rider.”
The route will tackle several climbs, including the Côte de Gelos, a 1.1-kilometer ascent with an average gradient of 7.8 percent at the start of each circuit. What remains to be seen is if the shorter and immensely steeper Rue Mulot inside the final kilometer will have a greater impact on the race.
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The rolling circuit should cater to aggressive racing, and Rally UHC Cycling will need to stay alert and aggressive throughout the day to be in the mix.
“We want to be involved in the race,” Bell said. “This means hedging our bets a bit. Being in the moves and racing at the front. It’s the kind of course where you never know how things will develop. We’ll need to be active but smart.”
With a recon under their belts and a gameplan drawn up, Doebel-Hickok and her teammates are prepared for the showdown with the world’s best.
“Everyone is in good spirits,” Doebel-Hickok said. “We are ready to show that we belong in this field.”
La Course by Le Tour de France roster
Watch La Course on NBCSports GOLD starting at 3 am central on Friday, July 19th.