Dutch rider Marianne Vos won her second La Course title with a stunning late surge up the final climb in Pau.
Australia’s Amanda Spratt led by 10 seconds into the final kilometre of the 121km circuit and was alone when she started the sharp ramp with 450m to go.
But Vos burst away from the other chasers, sprinted past Spratt and was able to coast over the line, beating Leah Kirchmann by three seconds.
Three-time world champion Vos won the first edition of La Course in 2014.
“This means a lot – I won five years ago and to win now again on a different circuit is a very special feeling,” she said.
La Course was set up by Tour de France organisers ASO in 2014 in response to lobbying by Le Tour Entier, a campaign group that was co-founded by Vos.
That inaugural race ended in a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, while this edition saw the women’s peloton tackle five laps of the individual time-trial course that will be used for stage 13 of the men’s Tour de France later on Friday.
Vos, who won four stages of the Giro Rosa this month, was the favourite for victory on a course that featured several short but steep climbs and delivered in style after her CCC-Liv team-mates worked hard to limit Spratt’s advantage.
“I enjoyed that circuit, there was a lot of different possibilities,” said Vos.
“I feel really good, I came with good motivation out of the Giro Rosa and La Course was good inspiration to go again.”
After an early breakaway of 10 riders was reeled in with around 50km to go, two-time defending champion Annemiek van Vleuten and world champion Anna van der Breggen exchanged attacks to force an elite selection.
With little cohesion in the group, a large bunch of riders bridged across before Mitchelton-Scott rider Spratt kicked away, bringing four riders with her.
That group was caught entering the final lap but Spratt managed to stay away and built a lead of 30 seconds as team-mate Van Vleuten disrupted the chase.
Yet ultimately Spratt lost crucial time on the wide, flat roads approaching the finish and Vos timed her attack up the 17% gradient climb perfectly, continuing the impressive form this season that could see her win a fourth world road title in Yorkshire in September.
Canadian Kirchmann held on for second, with Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig claiming third.
Britain’s Lizzie Deignan, who had not raced since winning the Women’s Tour last month and is building her season around the world championships, sustained two mechanical problems and missed the split, finishing 77th, over 11 minutes down.
La Course results
- Marianne Vos (Ned/CCC-Liv) 3hrs 15mins 20secs
- Leah Kirchmann (Can/Sunweb) +3secs
- Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (Den/Bigla)
- Lucinda Brand (Ned/Sunweb)
- Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (SA/CCC-Liv)
- Elisa Longo Borghini (Ita/Trek-Segafredo)
- Annemiek van Vleuten (Ned/Mitchelton-Scott)
- Soraya Paladin (Ita/Ale Cipollini)
- Ane Santesteban (Spa/WNT)
- Anna van der Breggen (Ned/Boels-Dolmans)