Juliette Labous, fresh from her recent triumph as the French national champion, has her sights firmly set on the Giro d’Italia Women. Labous, who donned the tricolore jersey on the podium at the French Championships on June 22nd, revealed in an interview with L’Equipe that she would readily trade her blue, white, and red stripes for the coveted pink jersey of the Giro. “I’d gladly give up my blue-white-red jersey for a pink one,” she laughed. “If that’s what it takes, no problem.”

Labous, who has often found herself in the top spots but with few victories to show for it (five wins in eight professional seasons), described her win in Normandy as a significant personal breakthrough. “It’s what I told my coach, Camiel Dénis of DSM-Firmenich-Post NL, it feels really good to win. Now, I want to win more often!”

Reflecting on her ambitions, Labous stated, “I want to do even better this year at the Giro and I think nothing is impossible. We have to aim as high as possible.” The Besançon rider, who finished fourth in the Tour de France 2022 and the Vuelta this year, is optimistic about her chances.

Juliette Labous winning the French title
(Photo credit: Getty)

The Giro holds special significance for Labous, as it was on the Italian roads that she claimed her first World Tour stage victory in 2022 at the Passo del Maniva in Brescia. “I only have good memories there,” she said with a smile. Last year, she achieved her first Grand Tour podium, finishing second to Annemiek van Vleuten. With Van Vleuten retired and Demi Vollering focusing on the Olympics and the Tour de France, Labous sees a clear path to aim for the top spot.

The French champion is motivated by the thought of wearing her tricolore jersey, though she will have to wait an extra day to do so, as the Giro opens with a 15.7 km individual time trial on flat roads in Brescia, Lombardy. A strong time-trialist and climber, Labous is well-placed to make an impact on the overall standings from the start.

Labous noted, “At the Tour de Suisse in mid-June, the strongest climbers were Elisa Longo Borghini and Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek), with a slight edge to Realini. We also need to watch out for Neve Bradbury and Antonia Niedermaier (Canyon-Sram). I’m not sure Lotte Kopecky can handle a stage like the Blockhaus with nearly 4,000 metres of elevation gain in one day.”

Eyeing the queen stage on Saturday, Labous remarked, “I’m not sure if women’s cycling has ever had a stage with 3,700 metres of elevation over 120 km. It’s going to be quite new. I’m eager to experience it.”

Labous dismisses concerns that her new drive for victory could jeopardise her preparations for her two main goals of the season, the Olympics and the Tour de France. “I’ve always said the Olympics (she is selected for both the time trial and road race) and the Tour are the ultimate goals. But for now, the objective is to shine this week. We’ll have time to think about the rest later.”