On Sunday in Paris, Canada’s Leah Kirchmann (Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies) sprinted into the record books with a third-place finish at the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France, one of the most memorable races in women’s cycling history. The 24-year-old and current national champion from Winnipeg came in hot on the heels of the winner, world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) and second-place Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) in a drawn-out sprint down the iconic Champs-Élysées.
— Leah Kirchmann (@L_Kirch) July 27, 2014
The 13-lap, 90-km race was an exciting affair, with attacks flying throughout the duration and large crowds lining the sidelines in the historic heart of Paris.
Despite the aggression, a bunch kick seemed inevitable as the strongest teams worked hard to keep the pack together.
On the final lap, French champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevost (Rabo-Liv) went for an audacious attack, dragging Amy Pieters (Giant-Shimano) behind her. Élan aside, the fairytale was always doomed and with 3 km to go as the tricolore was brought back by the peloton.
Rabo-Liv took the reins heading toward the final kick, delivering Vos perfectly to the long straight to the finish. Wild and Vos both went early, sprinting side by side down the Champs Élysées while Kirchmann gained behind them. In the final metres, Vos accelerated just enough to take the win ahead of her competitors.
Kirchmann’s podium places her firmly among the very elite in women’s professional cycling. La Course is a race that many hope will lead to a full Tour de France for women. While La Course has just had its inaugural run, it is already one of the most prestigious events on the women’s calendar.
— Liam Philley (@apieceofglass) July 27, 2014