Start location: Pau
Finish location: Pau
Stage type: Individual time trial
Start time: 14:30 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:30 CEST
Pau has enjoyed a long and cherished relationship with the Tour de France, being a host city on 67 occasions since the race's inception. This makes Pau the third most visited location in the Tour following Paris and Bordeaux. The town proudly celebrates its deep-rooted association with the Tour through the Tour of the Giants – an open-air museum paying homage to the race's winners. Each victorious rider is represented by a two-metre tall totem in yellow, forming a captivating spiral alongside the totems of other champions.
This year, the first time the Tour de France Femmes will make its inaugural visit to Pau, after being absent from the race's first edition. This not only marks the peloton's first time in Pau but also introduces an individual time trial to the race for the first time. Despite being a pivotal discipline in the world of cycling, the time trial was omitted from last year's edition, sparking controversy among the riders.
Stage eight profile sourced via ASO
After riders expressing their disappointment regarding the lack of time trials in the Women’s WorldTour calendar, the organisers of the Tour de France Femmes have made the decision to conclude this year's edition with an ITT. Taking place in Pau, the 22.6km time trial features a relatively flat route that will favour the time trial specialists. However, due to its lengthy distance, it also offers an opportunity for late changes in the GC standings if there are still narrow gaps after the challenging stage seven, which finished on the Col du Tourmalet.
The course includes one notable climb of 1.8 kilometres. This winding and challenging section will require riders to make multiple accelerations, and the climb itself, as well as a slight uphill finish, may pose a challenge for some. Nevertheless, it promises to be an exciting and explosive conclusion to the second edition of the Tour de France Femmes.
Race leader Demi Vollering (SD Worx) came second in this year's national time trial championships as well as second at the Tour de Suisse, and should be able to defend her sizeable lead of 1:50 in the general classification, as well as contest the stage win.
Third place Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) isone of the strongest time trialists in the race, and she could score a win here as well as move up on GC ahead of Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon//SRAM), who is 38 seconds ahead. Van Vleuten came third at her National Championships this year, but she hasn't competed in any other time trials this year. She is however, an Olympic champion in time trialing and can climb well, so despite little racing against the clock this year, we don't expect this will stop the formidable Van Vleuten from doing well.
Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) is a pure powerhouse and will be a rider looking to sweep up another stage win for the Dutch team. She won the individual time trial at this year's Tour de Suisse and has a strong history of good results in ITTs, including third at the World Championships last year and second the year before, as well as being a former Swiss national champion and silver medalist at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tour de France Femmes stage winner Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) is another strong time trialist, holding her Danish national champion title for three years running. She came third in the ITT at the Baloise Ladies Tour and has looked in phenomenal form so far this Tour.
French national champion and current white jersey Cédrine Kerbaol (Ceratizit-WNT Pro Cycling) has had a lot of experience with time trials, consistently placing well. After an excellent Grand Tour in her home country, where he has worn the white jersey for the whole eight days, she'll be wanting to see whether she can also bag herself a stage win to really make the French fans proud.
Winner of this year's time trial in the Baloise Ladies Tour Lucinda Brand (Lidl-Trek) could be a contender. She's had some strong results over the course of her career but they haven't been consistent, so she'll need to keep up the winning momentum if she wants to secure herself a Tour victory. Behind Brand at the Baloise Ladies Tour was former British national time trial champion Anna Henderson from Jumbo-Visma, who has looked in good form so far this Tour de France Femmes. Her teammate Riejanne Markus could take the stage, holding the Dutch national time trial champion title, having beaten Vollering.
Another rider who has had strong results in an ITT is Grace Brown (FDJ-Suez). She won earlier this year at the Bretagne Ladies Tour and was Australia's former national time trial champion last year.
Other riders who could be in contention for the stage win are Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Human Powered Health), Charlotte Kool (Team DSM-Firmenich), Vittoria Guazzini (FDJ-Suez), Agnieszka Skaliak-Sójka (Canyon//SRAM) and Amanda Spratt (Lidl-Trek).
We think Annemiek van Vleuten will win the final time trial of this year's Tour de France Femmes.
Cover photo by Zac Williams/SWPix