OTLEY'S British national champion Lizzie Deignan finished second on the Col d'Izoard as Holland's Annemiek van Vleuten won La Course by Le Tour.

Boels-Dolmans' Deignan began the day saying she was solely here as a domestique to support her team-mate Megan Guarnier in the Tour de France's women's event, but once it became clear the American did not have the legs Deignan fought for victory herself.

If not for the work she did for Guarnier, it could well have been Deignan celebrating atop the mountain.

"We took control of the race like we wanted to," she said. "I think perhaps I made a mistake in not having the confidence.

"I was really good and messed up by being a domestique and then a leader. I did too much work really.

"That's my own fault for not having confidence in myself and Megan put her hand up and said she could be leader so we went with her, but that's cycling."

Deignan finished 43 seconds behind Orica-AIS' Van Vleuten, with Elisa Longo Borghini of the British-registered Wiggle High5 team third, a further 40 seconds back.

The 67-kilometre stage from Briancon was raced at a furious pace as riders attacked and counter-attacked throughout.

New Zealander Linda Villumsen of Team VeloConcept Women tried a long-range attack but after she was reeled in with 10 kilometres to go, the real battle began.

Deignan, having already led the chase of Villumsen, was at the forefront but could not respond to Van Vleuten's attack with four kilometres left.

The 34-year-old Van Vleuten suffered a horror crash in the Olympic road race last year, but said her performance in Rio had convinced her she could contend on a mountainous course.

"To finish here at the Tour de France with so many people is amazing," she said. "Especially when before I wasn't a climber.

"But since the Rio Olympic Games, when I was able to climb with everyone uphill, that inspired me to focus more on the climbing.

"To organise this uphill finish for the girls on the Tour de France is great."

La Course is following a new-look format this time following three years of racing on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The leading 20 riders from this race will now head to Marseille on Saturday, where they will compete on the Tour de France time trial course in a pursuit, using staggered starts.

"I think it's really positive that we have a mountain top finish," Deignan said. "I think it needs some work in terms of organisation.

"It's great, but it felt a little bit like an after-thought sometimes with the organisation, so if that improves I think it's a fantastic idea."