The First (Modern) Women’s Tour de France: Race Preview

It’s here, it’s finally here, the first (modern) women’s Tour de France is just around the corner and we could not be more excited. Kicking off from Paris, as the men’s race finishes, it makes the Tour last a whole extra week, except with fresh faces and what is sure to be really competitive, really […]

It’s here, it’s finally here, the first (modern) women’s Tour de France is just around the corner and we could not be more excited. Kicking off from Paris, as the men’s race finishes, it makes the Tour last a whole extra week, except with fresh faces and what is sure to be really competitive, really top notch racing. 

The race will have all the familiar coveted classifications, the iconic yellow jersey, and some of the best roads in France.  Thinking of going to watch it?  Why not be part of history, and stand roadside, cheering on the riders who know they themselves are writing their way into the books of legends.

The Tour de France Femme Route

The eight days of the race take in the Grand Est area of the country.  Starting from Paris and meandering eastward, the race will conclude on the decisive climb of the Planche de Belles Filles, 

For a “two birds one stone” day- the Haussmann boulevards of Paris will do the trick.  As the Men’s Tour de France concludes, the women’s begins, with what is bound to be a tight and thrilling sprint finish on the Champs Élysées. The top sprinters will be vying for the rights to the first Yellow Jersey of the race, and the GC riders will want to remain safe- it will be cutthroat circuit, in stark contrast to what is essentially a finishing parade for the men.

Halfway through the race and it will be heating up on stage four. With chalk covered roads in the second half, France’s own “Strade Bianche” will make or break many a rider.  With the heat and dryness of July the chalky roads will be in full dust form, and only the best bike handlers will thrive.  Leaving from Troyes, a commonly used host town and finishing in Bar-Sur-Aube the hilly 126 kilometre stage will shake things up- and not just the road surface. 

Stages seven and eight will bring the final GC showdown as the mountains arrive.  The legs will be weary, the racing will have been hard beyond comparison, and it’s who will survive in the last days…

Stage seven has three serious climbs in it, first up the Petit Ballon, which is in no way petite at 8.1% over the 9.3 kilometres.  Quickly after comes the Col du Platzerwasel before the final long 13.5k climb of the Grand Ballon. From the start on the Alsace plain to the crested ridge of Le Markstein, what is done on this day cannot be undone.

And then only the stage to La Super Planche Des Belle Filles remains. Famous as an early feature in many Tours, the route first winds again over the Grand Ballon before taking on the steep 7km climb with an 8.7% gradient.  It’s dusty, it’s decisive and it’s the finishing jewel on the crown of the first modern women’s Tour de France. 

Read more about each stage on the official Tour de France Femme website. 

Riders to Watch at the Tour France Femme

The depth of talent in the women’s pro peloton is endless, and it’s hard to single out each and every rider who could make a mark on the race.  We’ve listed some key contenders, and some bonus names, especially those Girona residents we know, and love to call our local celebrities.

(names with stars denotes our locals)

Elisa Balsamo: The World Champion on the Trek – Segafredo team will be strong in the sprints and eager to have her world championship stripes near the front of the race.

Emma Norsgaard Bjerg*: A local to us, the young Danish sprinter is backing up her breakthrough season last year with a string of more strong results.  A sprinter who can get around a hilly course, and often left with an open role, Emma will be hunting stage wins on the sprint days and possibly the green points jersey. 

Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio*: This Girona resident is in her last year pro and for sure will want to turn it up as high as possible for the last months of her final year. She’s a talented climber so watch out for her in the second half of the race.

Annemiek van Vlueten: Annemiek has a point to prove this year, after a spring campaign that, whilst extraordinary, probably did not meet her expectations. She will want desperately to take victory at the first edition of the race.

Demi Vollering: Stages, GC, any of the jerseys? Demi could win them all. Watch out for the powerhouse on SD Worx to come blazing in. 

Kasia Niewiadoma*: A survivor through and through- Kasia will challenge victories and be on the pointy end we are sure. No doubts she will be in the mix for GC, and of course as a local we will be cheering her on.

Alison Jackson*: Another local favourite of ours, the dance machine that is Alison Jackson will be fighting strong in the points classification and sprints, and keep an eye on her Tik Tok and Instagram for all the bonus content fun.

Lotte Kopecky: The SD Worx rider is on fire this season, sprinting and surviving hillier terrain.  She’s a favourite for the green jersey and her formidable team will be behind her for sure.

Hannah Barnes*: Hannah calls Girona and Andorra home, and the British rider on her first year at Uno-X is sure to be ready for a hard week- with a free reign at the slightly smaller team we can expect to see Hannah aggressive and fighting with an underdog style.

Marta Cavalli: The winner of this year’s Amstel Gold Race, and Flèche Wallonne will be high on the list for GC contenders.

Lorena Wiebes: She’s one of the fastest sprinters out there, on fire recently at Ride London and will be focused on bringing in stage wins for Team DSM 

Marianne Vos: The dutch rider has recently recovered from Covid, but if she finds her old legs, she is just always, and forever one to beat.

Coryn Rivera: Teammate of Vos on Jumbo-Visma, the American sprinter will be flourishing in the first half of the race.

Mavi Garcia: The Spanish rider on team ADQ -UAE Emirates has had a great season so far and will be high up on the GC leaderboards.

Niamh Fisher-Black*: The white and polka dot jerseys are serious possibilities for the Kiwi on SD Worx, and Girona denizen.

Elisa Longo Borghini: She won Paris Roubaix in style this year, she constantly puts in strong GC performances in stage races, Elisa can do it all. The Trek Rider and current Italian national champion will have the yellow jersey in her cross hairs.

Experience the first (modern) Women’s Tour de France with us!

Tune in with us at the end of July!  The Women’s Tour de France by Zwift will be live on the TV Box every day at our Cafe.  Join us for camaraderie, viewing and an afternoon post ride refreshment.

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