• Country

The Countdown Is on to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift!

By Megan Flottorp

We are now at well under 100 days until the action starts on July 23! In addition to a whole new route and the starting list announcement, here are some more key details you need to be aware of as we begin the countdown in earnest.

For example, did you know that this year’s race has a bigger emphasis on sustainability? Or do you want to know if your favourite rider is on our list of top picks? Let’s dig into what we can expect when the TdFF avec Zwift takes off for its second instalment this summer!

The women will tackle a whole new route

This year, the women will take on a new route that covers a distance of 956 kilometres and ends in the Pyrenees with a mountaintop finish on the legendary Tourmalet on stage 7, followed by a final stage 8 time trial in Pau.

The eight-day race will start in the capital of the Auvergne region, Clermont-Ferrand. According to Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme and Tour de France Femmes race director Marion Rousse, the route for this year’s race was designed to up the climbing and explore new regions and mountain ranges while still incorporating the same key ingredients that made last year’s race such a success. Despite not beginning in Paris like the men’s race, the women’s race will still carry on the Tour de France brand and follow a “fourth-week” tradition, with eight stages taking place from Sunday to Sunday.

“The women will race eight stages from Sunday to Sunday and extend the drama for a fourth week with the same script focusing on the feats and failures of the champions, and the role of breakthrough characters against a magnificent backdrop. Like last year, there will be similarities between the two courses,” Rousse said.

Stages of the Tour de France Femmes 2023

Stage 1: Clermont-Ferrand to Clermont-Ferrand, 124 km (Flat)
Stage 2: Clermont-Ferrand to Mauriac, 148 km (hilly)
Stage 3: Collonges-La-Rouge to Montignac-Lascaux, 147 km (Flat)
Stage 4: Cahors to Rodez, 177 km (Hilly)
Stage 5: Onet-Le-Château to Albi, 126 km (Flat)
Stage 6: Albi to Blagnac, 122 km (Flat)
Stage 7: Lannemezan to Tourmalet Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 90 km (Mountain)
Stage 8: Pau to Pau, 22 km (TT)

22 teams will be vying for the top spot

For this year’s edition, there are 22 teams confirmed to battle it out for the coveted title of the number-one team. The field comprises 15 Women’s WorldTour teams, joined by Ceratizit WNT and Lifeplus Wahoo, as well as five wildcard teams, including AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step, Arkéa, Cofidis, St Michel Mavic-Auber93, and Coop-Hitec Products.

Last year’s Tour saw a trio of dominant riders, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar), Demi Vollering (SD Worx), Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Canyon–SRAM) taking the top three spots. However, with a completely new route this year, including the challenging Col du Tourmalet, it’s definitely going to be a very different race, and it is currently anyone’s guess who will come out on top. Will someone new manage to unseat Van Vleuten from her throne? 

With only Wiebes having claimed victory in 2023 so far, it’s time to examine the potential contenders for the coveted maillot jaune. Can anyone unseat van Vleuten from her throne?

Our current must-watch riders

Demi Vollering, last year’s TdFF GC runner-up, is indeed a top contender for the title of the best Dutchwoman and the best rider in the world. Her impressive record in 2023 features several victories, including an epic win at the Strade Bianche. With her fearsome climbing skills, the route of this year’s crowning event might be just what she needs to outshine the competition.

Elisa Longo Borghini’s season started with a win at the inaugural UAE Tour Women, followed by an unfortunate COVID-19 break before the cobbled Classics. Nevertheless, she managed a remarkable third place at the Tour of Flanders but then crashed at Paris-Roubaix. Her form at the UAE Tour will serve her well in the climbing-heavy races later in the year, and she may attempt a double at the Giro and the Tour.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, one of the four riders to win a stage at last year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, is poised for even greater achievements this year. The support of the only French team in the Women’s World Tour should give her the extra push she needs to make a significant impact. Her victory at the Tour of Scandinavia and third place at Strade Bianche this year shows she is capable of getting on that podium.

Kasia Niewiadoma, last year’s third-place winner, has had a low-key 2023, but she remains a force to be reckoned with. The Canyon-SRAM rider could be the best of the rest and a strong contender for the GC at this year’s Tour de France.

Grace Brown, one of the winners of a Word Tour stage race this season, is unlikely to challenge for the overall title due to the dominance of her teammate Uttrup Ludwig. However, the FDJ Suez rider is a possible stage winner or a strong contender and might just sneak a place in the GC if the stars align.

Most important race details to know so far

Dates: 23-30 July 2023
Number of stages: 8
Total distance: 956 km
Number of teams: 22
*Prize money: There is a total prize purse of €250,000 of which €50,000 goes to the overall winner.
*Just a note, while this is among the highest on the women’s calendar, it doesn’t hold a candle to the men’s event, which sees the winner take home €500,000 from a total fund of €2,288,450.

Prize purse discrepancy aside (we will save that for another article), as the countdown to the inaugural Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift continues, excitement is building among fans and competitors alike. With a stacked field of talented riders set to take on the challenging course, it promises to be a thrilling and historic event.

Stay tuned for more coverage as the big event approaches!