Tour de Romandie Féminin 2022 preview - Route, predictions and contenders

The final instalment of the Women’s WorldTour has a stellar line-up

For the first time ever, the women’s peloton have the opportunity to race the Tour de Romandie in 2022. Taking place from October 7-9, the race spans three stages, with the standout spectacle being on stage two, when the peloton will climb to the summit of Thyon 2000. On either side of this mountain day, there are two rolling stages which will provide a good opportunity for some aggressive, attacking racing.

The majority of the biggest stars in the women’s peloton are expected to be on the startline in Lausanne where the race kicks off, including newly-crowned World Champion Annemiek van Vleuten. She’ll be challenged by the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, and Demi Vollering and we can expect a fierce battle between the best climbers in the bunch for the honour of being crowned the first ever winner of the Tour de Romandie Féminin.

Read on for everything you need to know about the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin, including Rouleur’s prediction of the race winner.

Route and stages

STAGE ONE - LAUSANNE LUTRY TO LAUSANNE QUAI D'OUCHY, 134.4KM

Image: Tour de Romandie Féminin

The first stage of the Tour de Romandie Féminin kicks off in Lausanne with a punchy route which levels out at the end. Riders are hit with the first, third-category climb just 8km into the stage, and this is closely followed by a second ascent, meaning there will be little recovery time for the lesser climbers in the peloton. The stage continues roll for the next 37 kilometres, which could give time for a breakaway to establish itself or we might see a regroup of the main peloton. Another third category climb comes after 56 kilometres of racing, and then two more follow after 90 kilometres and 105 kilometres of racing respectively. With approximately 24 kilometres to go, the peloton will descend back towards Lausanne before a flat 14 kilometre run-in to the finish. 

While the final climb of the day could provide a springboard for some brave attacks, the final stretch to the finish line could prove difficult for a lone rider or small breakaway. This means that today could be a stage for those who are able to hold on to the wheels over the climbs but can pack a punch at the finish. None of the climbs are so challenging that they will cause time splits and the general classification is unlikely to be decided today, but in a three-day stage race, these repeated efforts could cause fatigue in the tail-end of the event.

STAGE TWO - SION TO THYON 2000, 104.5KM

Image: Tour de Romandie Féminin

Stage two is the queen stage of the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin, and we can expect to see a fierce GC battle all the way to the top of Thyon 2000 which sits at an altitude of 2100 metres. The first 54 kilometres of the stage are tame, with one third category climb the only obstacle for riders. It’s on the first category climb to Suen that the race will kick off – the riders summit this ascent with 35 kilometres still remaining. After some brief respite and the final feed zone on the stage, the riders start the main event of stage two: the climb to Thyon 2000.

The climb is 20.5 kilometres long at an average gradient of 7.7%. The incline is unrelenting to the top, with a maximum gradient of 11.9%. It is here that the overall winner of the Tour de Romandie Féminin could be decided: there will be big splits on the way to the summit and it is going to be a fight for survival for many riders. The last time the Women’s WorldTour saw climbs of such a distance was in the inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes, where Annemiek van Vleuten won in a dominating fashion. It’s going to be a challenge for the other teams to stop her doing that on Thyon 2000, too, but many of them will be forced to think creatively to prevent her from taking the win, that may be by opening up the race early or trying to establish a strong breakaway that Movistar will find it difficult to control.

STAGE THREE - FRIBOURG TO GENEVA, 146.6KM

Image: Tour de Romandie Féminin

With the fatigue from the gruelling ascent of Thyon 2000 in their legs, the riders will be grateful for a relatively tame start to the third and final stage of the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin. The first 30 kilometres are flat and lead into a descent to the bottom of the opening climb of the stage: Villars-Le-Comte. A second category climb, this is the main obstacle of the day for the sprinters, but it comes early enough in the stage that it there is plenty of time for them to regain contact with the front bunch. It could be that time splits on the GC are so large after stage two that there won’t be a GC fight on this stage, providing a prime opportunity for a breakaway.

For the next 78 kilometres, the route is mostly flat with a few small kickers, but nothing that is going to cause any big gaps in the peloton. With 33 kilometres remaining in the stage, the peloton face a short third category climb, before a steady flat finish which is slightly downhill. Today is likely to be a day for a bunch sprint, unless there is an especially breakaway group that manages to fend off the storming lead out trains.

Contenders

Unsurprisingly, Annemiek van Vleuten sits at the forefront of the key favourites for the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin. This will be the Movistar rider’s first outing in her rainbow stripes after her emphatic win at the World Championships in Wollongong a few weeks ago. She won that race with a broken elbow, and she’s likely to be close to fully recovered from that injury the Tour de Romandie, so she’s going to be firing on all cylinders and hard to beat, especially with the added motivation of wearing the rainbow stripes. The climb up to Thyon 2000 is where the Dutchwoman will make the difference and it’s going to be up to the others to hang on to her wheel.

Annemiek van Vleuten wins the 2022 World Championships (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)

Demi Vollering of Team SD Worx is another contender for the overall victory, although her form is unknown after a recent bout of Covid-19 forced her to miss the World Championships. Vollering was the closest challenger to Van Vleuten at the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, but her compatriot did get the better of her on the long mountains. Vollering’s advantage could come from her strong SD Worx team – she’ll be supported by the likes of Ashleigh Moolman (who showed incredible form at the Worlds a few weeks ago) and Anna Shackley who are both contenders for victory in their own right.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig at the 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)

Both Vollering and Van Vleuten’s plans could be scuppered by the French team FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope, however. They come with a triple-pronged attack in the form of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Évita Muzic and Marta Cavalli, all talented climbers who can also sprint at the end of a hard race. Likewise, Liane Lippert of Team DSM was one of the strongest climbers at the recent World Championships and was unlucky to miss out on a medal, this could make the young German even more motivated for victory at the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin. Recent winner of Giro dell’Emilia, Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) is another big contender for victory.

Veronica Ewers of EF-Education Tibco SVB recently finished second in the Giro dell’Emilia and will be suited to the parcours in Romandie, and Yara Kastelijn of Plantur-Pura is another outside bet for the overall or a stage win.

Prediction

Annemiek van Vleuten may be the bookies’ favourite, but we’re going to take a risk and predict that Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope will take victory at the 2022 Tour de Romandie Féminin. The Danish rider showed great form at the World Championships and if FDJ work well together, they could put Van Vleuten under pressure as she doesn’t have such a strong team. Uttrup Ludwig missed some racing earlier in the season so doesn’t look to be carrying the fatigue that hits many riders towards the end of the year, and she will be motivated to finish the season on a high.

Cover image: Tim de Waele/Getty