Tour de France Femmes
Date: Sunday July 24, 2022 - Sunday July 31, 2022
Start: Paris, France
Finish: La Super Planche des Belles Filles
Total distance: 1033.6km
The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift kicks off on Sunday July 24, 2022, the first edition to be staged by the men's Tour de France organiser ASO.
Since 2014 the women's peloton has had to settle for the one-day race La Course by Le Tour de France, but will now be able to compete across an eight-day stage race to fight for the coveted maillot jaune. It's set to be a monumental moment in women's cycling as the female peloton finally are given the opportunity to compete in an event with such prestige.
The women's Tour de France overlaps with the men's by one day, beginning on the Champs Élysées in Paris ahead of the arrival of the men's final stage.
However, the women's Tour de France does not mirror the course of the men's race. Instead, the race will take place over eight stages and cover 1,033.6km in total. While there was initially criticism regarding the length of the event, the general consensus in the peloton appears to be that this is a good place to start, and that the women's WorldTour field does not yet have the staff or numbers to field teams for a three-week event.
A shorter race could also lead to more exciting, explosive and punchy racing. The organisers have created a varied route which includes two mountain stages, two hilly stages and four flat stages with some gravel sectors also thrown in here and there for good measure. We can expect the likes of Annemiek van Vlueten, Demi Vollering and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig to be targeting the overall GC as the Tour de France Femmes favourites, while riders like Lorena Wiebes and Elisa Balsamo will have their sights set on the flatter stages. Regardless of the outcome, the event is going to be a pivotal moment in the sport; here's everything you need to know.
Tour de France Femmes route
The Tour de France Femmes 2022 route may only be eight stages, but it packs enough tests within in it to make for a thrilling first edition of the women's Tour de France.
The route generally heads eastward from its starting point in Paris, eventually ending up in the Vosges Mountains for a gruelling final summit finish conclude the race.
The circa 82km opening stage in the capital will mirror the end of men's final stage and is almost certain to come down to a sprint. Likewise the 136km stage two looks like one for the fast-women, who will be keen to take their chances with only three nailed on bunch finishes on paper.
Stage three is not one of those that suits a mass sprint and will be a challenging up and down day over 133.6km in the Champagne region. Expect attacks here.
The fourth stage should be one of the most entertaining to watch on TV. With climbs and gravel sectors packed into the final 60km, this will be a dangerous stage for the GC contenders. It's one where the Tour potentially won't be won, but it can certainly be lost.
The longest stage on day five is a punishing 175km, but it is generally flat. We should see a bunch sprint here but some tired legs may make this a more unpredictable affair.
The 129km stage six could end in a reduced bunch finish, but there's enough climbing on the approach to the Vosges that some of the sprinters will almost certainly be dropped. This could be a perfect stage for the breakaway, but if anyone with a fast finish does make it over the final climb with 9km to go they will have a great chance of stage victory.
The final two days of the race will be where the GC is almost certainly decided. Two back to back mountain days will really test the peloton, though the highest point of the race is only 1,193m meaning altitude will not be a factor here.
While that may bring more riders into play, three category one climbs on stage seven will be enough to separate the best from the rest. It's not quite a summit finish here with a final 7km flat and downhill stretch to the line, but anyone solo over the top of the final climb will fancy their chances at holding off the chasers.
The final stage on day eight is a brute, culminating in a final torturous race to the summit of Super Planche des Belles Filles. This climb, with its last kilometre gravel stretch to the line that pitches to over 24%, featured in the men's race this year and was won by Tadej Pogačar. Only the best riders will be able to stay towards the front of the race here and it could be the final showdown between the GC contenders if the race is still tight at the top.
The nature of the route, where the two queen stages occur in the final two days, does mean we may not be sure of the winner until the riders cross the finish line on the final stage. This could also encourage 'all or nothing' attacks in the final couple of stages.
You can find a full detailed breakdown of the Tour de France Femmes route here.
Tour de France Femmes 2022 contenders
Yellow jersey/general classification
Following the retirement of Anna van der Breggen at the end of last season, Annemiek van Vleuten starts as the key women's Tour de France favourite. The three-time World Champion and three-time winner of the Giro Donne excels on hilly terrain and will relish the mountains on stages seven and eight. She will enter the race supported by her Movistar teammates, who will back her all the way for overall victory. Van Vleuten will need to be vigilant on the earlier gravel and flat stages to ensure she doesn’t lose time to any of her competitors, however.
Annemiek van Vleuten battles it out with Lotte Kopecky in Strade Bianche 2022 (Image: CorVos/SWpix)
Team SD Worx will be looking to make Movistar’s pursuit of the yellow jersey difficult. The number one ranked Women’s WorldTeam have Demi Vollering in their roster, winner of La Course in 2021. The long climbs could be a little too demanding for Vollering in the final stages, however, and it's hard to predict how she will respond on this terrain. SD Worx have options, though, should Vollering not be able to hold the pace in the mountains. South African rider Ashleigh Moolman is extremely reliable on the hills, while Lotte Kopecky will be a great option for the flat and hilly stages.
Demi Vollering of Team SD Worx (Image: SWpix/Zac Williams)
Trek-Segafredo’s of Elisa Longo Borghini will be a force to be reckoned with in the mountains, and her have the strength in numbers to play a canny tactical game.
French team FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope made their ambitions for the Tour de France Femmes clear as soon as the race was announced last year: they want to win the yellow jersey in their home race. They will start with Danish dynamite Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig as their protected rider for GC.
Elisa Longo Borghini sprints against Kasia Niewiadoma and Grace Brown (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
The final two stages could be a little too hilly for Jumbo-Visma’s Marianne Vos, but we know from her palmarès (32 stage wins at the Giro Donne) to never count the Dutch rider out. If she doesn’t manage to contend for the overall, Vos will be hunting for as many stage wins as she can.
Kasia Niewiadoma of Canyon//SRAM Racing will also hope to be in the fight for yellow. The former winner of The Women’s Tour is a versatile rider who will likely be strong on the punchier stages earlier on in the race, but also in the heavy-loaded back end of the route when the mountains come thick and fast. Mavi García of UAE Team ADQ is also an outside bet for the win, as is Team DSM’s Liane Lippert.
Green jersey/points classification
Traditionally awarded to the strongest sprinter in the race, the green jersey looks like it will be as hotly contested in the Tour de France Femmes as the yellow. The flat opening two stages will be fought out between the fastest sprinters in the women’s peloton and there’s many riders who will fancy their chances.
Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM (Image: Simon Wilkinson/SWpix)
Team DSM likely bring the best sprint option. Their roster includes Lorena Wiebes, surely this season's best sprinter so far. With Team DSM having a notoriously drilled lead-out train, Wiebes will be set up perfectly to take some stage wins.
From Movistar, Emma Norsgaard will be hoping for a stage win with a strong lead out from her teammates. The Danish rider won a stage of the Giro Donne last year and has asserted herself in recent seasons as one of the brightest young talents when it comes to sprinting. With her team containing the main contender for the overall GC, however, it will be interesting to see how much resource Movistar dedicate to helping Norsgaard in the flatter stages.
The experienced Coryn Labecki (née Rivera) will be hoping to get back to her sprinting best with Jumbo-Visma. It will be interesting to see if Jumbo-Visma opt for Labecki or Vos in the sprint stages – Vos has the potential to win a bunch kick, but Labecki is historically the fastest sprinter of the two.
Marta Bastianelli of UAE Team ADQ, though winless at the recent Giro Donne, started her 2022 season well with some impressive lead outs from her newly formed team. The Italian is experienced and won’t be fazed by the pressure of competing for a stage win in the inaugural Tour de France Femmes.
Elisa Balsamo of Trek Segafredo (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
Trek Segafredo bring the world champion Elisa Balsamo to the start line – an incredibly strong sprinter, especially after a tough race. With super domestiques Ellen van Dijk and Audrey Cordon-Ragot forming part of her leadout, Balsamo should have all the support she needs to gun for stage wins and the green jersey.
Outside bets/stage winners
Aside from the pure sprinters and GC contenders, there are lots of riders in the peloton who will be opportunistically looking for stage wins on the rolling terrain of stages three, four and six. Winner of Strade Bianche in 2021, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak will have her eyes on the gravel hills of stage four, as will riders like Grace Brown who favour a breakaway. Swiss riders Elise Chabbey and Marlen Reusser both are strong riders who can go for long-range attacks.
Marlen Reusser of Team SD Worx leads the peloton (Image: SWpix/Alex Whitehead)
Belgian Champion Lotte Kopecky is an all-rounder who will excel on punchy hills – another option for Team SD Worx who have strength in numbers. British champion Joscelin Lowden of Team Uno-X, secured a top five at Brabantse Pijl last year, a race which has similar bumpy terrain to that seen in stages three and six of the Tour de France Femmes. Juliette Labous of Team DSM has excelled in the Ardennes in the past in will be in with a shout of stage wins, as has Marta Cavalli (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope), who finished on the podium of each of the Ardennes Classics this year. After finishing runner-up at the Giro, she'll likely support Uttrup Ludwig in the GC, but will be a favourite for stage wins on the hilly terrain if she's let off the leash.
How to watch the Tour de France Femmes 2022
In the UK the women's Tour de France will be shown live on Eurosport TV. If you subscribe to the Eurosport Player, or its sister platforms Discovery+ or GCN+, you'll be able to catch the entirety of each of the stages of the Tour de France Femmes completely uninterrupted. These services also provide on-demand highlights and pre- and post-race shows.
British team Le Col-Wahoo are offering 10,000 special, free, eight-day GCN+ passes to UK-based fans so they can watch the race. Applications for the passes are open until the 31st July. Find out more here.
In the USA you can watch the Tour de France Femmes on CNBC and on the Peacock Premium streaming service.
In Canada, cycling subscription platform Flobikes holds the rights to the race and will have live coverage of every stage.
Cover images by Getty Images