Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage seven preview - the real climbing begins
The first of the two final mountain stages of this year's race should cause a GC shake up
Tour de France Femmes 2022, stage seven
Start location: Sélestat
Finish location: Le Markstein Fellering
Start time: 12:30 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.16 BST
The Tour de France Femmes has built steadily to a final weekend crescendo, as two huge mountain stages in two days will decide the outcome of the general classification, a contest that has been tantalisingly teased in earlier stages but which won’t fully ignite until stage 7.
With a marked escalation in altitude metres, this penultimate day will offer a more realistic glimpse at the form of the key players in the GC race, as they are tested on the most stringent climbs yet on this Queen stage of the Tour.
Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage seven route
The day begins in Sélestat, a prominent town on the Alsace wine route renowned for its historic architecture. It features Romanesque, Baroque and Gothic styles side by side, and is notable for never having featured on a stage of either the men’s or women’s Tours de France, historically.
Travelling south from Sélestat, the women’s peloton can enjoy a relatively flat opening to the stage – around 40km before they kiss goodbye to the flatlands and head into the Vosges mountains. Having said that, the route begins steadily rising around 30km in, ahead of the three category 1 tests that will challenge the riders and set light to the GC contest.
The first is the Petit Ballon: the little sister of the day’s final climb, the first ascent will feel far from small. It’s not the longest of climbs at 9.3km but with an average pitch of 8.1%, it will not only test the bunch and likely see the first big GC attacks of the race, but combined with another climb hot on its heels after only around 10km of descent, it will almost certainly split the bunch, with pure climbers and GC contenders leaving the punchers and sprinters in their wake.
The second climb is the Col du Platzerwasel, and it’s similar in length and gradient – 7.1km at 8.3%. The pair of steep climbs in quick succession will be decisive – expect fireworks.
The final challenge of the day is the Grand Ballon. 1,424 metres at its highest point, the ascent is the highest peak of the Vosges mountains. Topped by a white ball radar and a summit monument, the category 1 rated ascent takes the race to its highest altitude overall. It’s not a summit finish however, and once the women have conquered the climb, they have just over 8km remaining as they traverse a plateau and gradually descend towards the finish line in Le Markstein Fellering. The ski resort’s claims to fame include playing host to the Alpine Skiing World Cup, and being the first resort in the area to be equipped with a ski lift. It’s featured in the Tour before but never as a stage finish.
Tour de France Femmes 2022 stage seven contenders and prediction
With two pivotal days in which to make an impact, expect numerous attacks from the GC teams and full gas racing throughout. With the final day featuring shorter, punchier climbs, it’s the pure climbers who will likely excel on stage 7 – keep an eye on Mavi Garcia, Juliette Labous, Demi Vollering, Annemiek van Vleuten, Kasia Niewiadoma, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, who will all be looking to gain time on the rest ahead of the final stage.
Cover image: A.S.O./Romain Laurent