Britain’s Lizzie Deignan put herself in contention to win La Course by the Tour de France, the two-day women’s road race held alongside the finale of the men’s competition, by finishing second on the first stage.
Holland’s Annemiek van Vleuten took victory at the top of the Col d’Izoard after launching an attack in the final 5km, with former road race world champion Deignan 43 seconds behind.
Saturday’s deciding time-trial pursuit around Marseille sees riders set off at intervals determined by their first-stage times, meaning Deignan will try to chase down Van Vleuten’s 43-second lead.
“I wouldn’t call myself a time-triallist but perhaps this gives me a chance,” said the 28-year-old Tour of Britain champion.
Deignan might have had more chance of catching Van Vleuten had she not started the stage in support of Boels Dolmans team-mate Megan Guarnier, a role that involved reeling in an attack from Linda Villumsen.
“I messed up by being a domestique then a leader, so it’s my own fault for not having confidence in myself,” she added. “Megan put her hand up at the start of the day and said she could be leader.”
Van Vleuten’s win followed two stages of the women’s Giro d’Italia and continued her impressive comeback from multiple back fractures suffered during the Olympic road race in Brazil last year.