Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage four preview - time for the gravel

The peloton will face some steep gravel inclines as the race steps up in difficulty at the halfway point

Tour de France Femmes 2022, stage four
Distance: 126.8km
Start location: Troyes
Finish location: Bar-Sur-Aube
Start time: 12:00 BST
Finish time (approx): 15.15 BST

A second hilly stage in as many days, stage four marks the halfway point of the Tour de France Femmes, and a gradual escalation of difficulty level, as the women face the white roads of the champagne region.

One of the most eye-catching stages of the route revealed last autumn, the day will challenge as well as impress as the women contend with a shift in road surface, along with a handful of categorised climbs, in what could be characterised as a stage of two halves.

Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage four Route

The start location of Troyes is a stunning location with mediaeval and gothic architecture, and the crowds should provide a vibrant atmosphere as the peloton rolls out of the town towards kilometre zero.

From there, the peloton can enjoy an almost flat opening to the stage, as around 68km passes with very little trouble for the riders in the way of lumps and bumps. The route travels east, and then south, passing through the stunning Forêt d’Orient, an area of natural beauty with woodlands and lakes, where those interested in the points competition will contest an intermediate sprint, before the landscape changes and they begin climbing.

There are a total of five categorised climbs along the second half of the route, along with four gravel sectors that total 12.8km. Some of the gravel sections are discrete, but others coincide with the climbs to create some seriously challenging obstacles for the women. Those feeling good will look to these segments to launch attacks, and with so many climbs scattered along the second half of the route, it promises some explosive racing.

The first two climbs are the toughest of the day. Both category threes, the Côte de Celles-sur-Ource is a gravel climb of 1.1km long at an average of 8.9% and the Côte du Val des Clos is 900m long at 8.8%, also a gravel ascent.

The peloton continues along the longest segments of gravel after that, as the route swings northwards once again. There is a decent amount of uncategorised climbing thrown in for good measure on the way to the third QOM ascent of the day, the category four Côte de Maître Jean. This is followed less than 10km later by another category four climb and the beginning of the final gravel sector, the Côte de Vitry.

From there the final challenges standing between the women and the finish line are yet another uncategorised climb, where they can race for bonus seconds, before one final category four climb just 5km from the finish in Bar-Sur-Aube, a picture-postcard pretty city at the heart of the champagne region.

Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage four contenders and prediction

If you’re looking for a winner for today’s stage, look for punchy riders with excellent bike handling skills – Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), Lotte Kopecky (Team SD Worx), and Paris-Roubaix winner Elisa Longo-Borghini (Trek-Segafredo) are likely to be among those contesting the stage win.

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