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On July 24, 2022 the women’s peloton will start the long-awaited Tour de France Femmes race. So, where will the road take them and what does the cycling community have to say about it?

The planned eight stages will take the women through four flat stages, two stages for the puncheurs and two mountain stages including a summit finish. The overall responses are pretty nice, there’s just one sigh from the racers regarding a missing time-trial.

Tour de France Femmes

Marianne Vos is one of many who noticed this absence, saying: “To be honest, I did expect a time trial. It completes a stage race. But I also think that the tension is perhaps even stronger in a stage than in a time trial. This choice was perhaps made for that reason.”

And what’s the take of the legendary Annemiek van Vleuten?

“I have the feeling that, with this route, they made an effort to organise something good and representative. From a quick look, they did a good job in having something for everyone in these eight days of racing.

“Of course, I like the mountain stages, but I’m also happy, for example, to see that we start on the Champs-Élysées. It’s a really nice connection with the men’s Tour de France, to start where they finish,” said van Vleuten.

“OK, there’s no time trial, but I’m not sad about that because the two uphill finishes are really interesting for me, personally. What also makes me excited is that they also put in the effort to take us to famous climbs, with names that everyone knows.

Here’s the route overview including commentary from Marion Rousse, the race’s director.

Stage 1 (Paris Eiffel Tower to Paris Champs-Élysées, 82km, Flat)

It will be exciting, tense and tight on this circuit that’s as tricky as it is prestigious, and where constant accelerations gradually take a toll. During the editions of La Course by Le Tour avec FDJ that finished on the Champs-Élysées, only Anna van der Breggen managed to prevent the sprinters winning with an attack from a kilometre out in 2015. You’d need to be strong and daring to repeat that kind of feat.

Stage 2 (Meaux to Provins, 135km, Flat)

Racing across the Brie region to reach the gates of Champagne won’t be without its difficulties and this stage could well cause a surprise. Having already hosted the Tour de l’Avenir, the department of Seine-et-Marne is providing further confirmation with this stage, which takes place entirely on its roads, that its Plan Vélo designed to encourage cycling is very much on the right track.

Stage 3 (Reims to Épernay, 133km, Flat)

Amidst Champagne’s age-old and magnificent vineyards, there will be plenty of opportunity to break the peloton’s shackles. The final circuit will take place on the same roads where Julian Alaphilippe went clear on his own on the Tour stage to Épernay in 2019, claiming a brilliant stage victory and taking his first yellow jersey. That should inspire attacks.

Stage 4 (Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube, 126km, Hilly)

From one image of Champagne to another, in this case its chalk-covered and often very steep roads. There are several sectors that should split the race on the approach to Bar-sur-Aube. There will be more of these unsealed sections than have featured recently in the men’s Tour at the Plateau des Glières and at the top of La Planche des Belles Filles.

Stage 5 (Bar-Le-Duc to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, 175km, Flat)

The previous day’s finish will have undoubtedly done some damage and it will be to head on to less damaging terrain. Still, it will not be that restful. The fifth stage, with three spicy climbs, will be the longest of the race through the departments of Meuse, Meurthe-et-Moselle and Vosges. The hours in the saddle will be a big factor when the winner is decided after 175 kilometres of racing.

Stage 6 (Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim, 128km, Hilly)

A rollercoaster stage with several small climbs scattered along the route. The last of these, on the final circuit around Rosheim, could prove decisive with less than 10 kilometres to go. The crossing of the Alsatian winelands won’t be easy and a long breakaway could reward the breakaway specialists at the expense of the sprinters.

Stage 7 (Sélestat to Le Markstein, 127km, Mountain)

There is a gentle start on the Alsace plain before the peloton tackles three of the toughest passes in the Vosges (Petit Ballon, Platzerwasel, Grand Ballon), which come one after another and should establish a very clear hierarchy. Rather than descending again after the final climb, the route will follow the ridge line towards the Markstein, where a great climber is expected to win and potentially take yellow.

Stage 8 (Lure to La Super Planche des Belles Filles, 123km, Mountain)

This first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will end on a high thanks to two mythical climbs that will provide a magnificent finale: the first is the Ballon d’Alsace, long part of the Tour’s history, which the riders will tackle via its steepest flank.  Then they will hit La Super Planche des Belles Filles, which has often been decisive in the battle for the yellow jersey, and will certainly be pivotal in this race.

 

We cannot wait for the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift! What about you?