A Women’s Tour de France worthy of the name is finally here once again, after a long, long wait.
The 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift runs over eight stages, beginning with a criterium format in Paris on July 24th, and finishing on July 31st, with a mountain top finish in north-eastern France. The settings will include some familiar backdrops from the many editions of the men’s tour, along with new variations that will make this reimagined women’s Tour truly interesting to watch.
24 teams will participate, each with 6 riders, so it’s a sizable field, and includes most of the top pro road cycling women in the world. The event promises the largest purse in women’s cycling, with 250,000 euros in prize money, including 50,000 for the overall winner.
The race is organized by ASO, the same company that produces the men’s tour, and many aspects of the presentation and race format are shared. The race website, the stage furniture, the jersey competitions within the race, even race sponsors and support vehicles, will be very familiar to followers of le Tour.
Marion Rousse, director of the Tour de France Femmes, decribed the reborn tour as “a jewel to cherish.”
She said: “We want to give the women the same level of attention we gave the men. We wanted to offer something special for the female fans. And we think the women deserve it too. They’ve been waiting for such a long time for this day.”
The organizers appear to be committed to learning the lessons from the previous women’s Tours, addressing the historical deficiencies and imbalances as well as they can, and setting up a race format that will be able to flourish for decades to come.
Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2022, revitalized in an eight stage format
The Tour de France Femmes begins with a two hour circuit race through Paris on July 24th, on the same route covered at the climax of the concluding stage of the men’s Tour, later in the day. The race continues over eight stages, on progressively more challenging terrain, finishing on July 31st.
The early stages are flat, but become progressively more mountainous as the route winds through north-eastern France. The final stage, on July 31st, features a mountain-top finish at La Super Planche des Belles Filles. This is the same climb featured in an early stage of this year’s men’s tour, and a mountain that has produced dramatic finishes in several editions of le Tour.
The formal name of this year’ event is the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, reflecting the support of the key sponsor of the race. Other key sponsors of the men’s Tour de France like LCL, Skoda are also involved. It will be possible to watch the entire event and follow in a variety of apps and sources.
This all adds up to a level of visibility and support far beyond any previous incarnation of the women’s Tour.
Terry celebrates the 2022 Tour de France Femmes with tour inspired themes
2022 Women’s Tour de France Femmes Route
The Tour de France Femmes will cover 1,029 kilometres, opening in Paris with a circuit race, progressing through through three more flat stages, and two rolling or hilly routes for the all-rounders. The route concludes with back-to-back mountain stages, where the overall winner will most likely emerge.
- Stage 1: Paris Eiffel Tower to Paris Champs-Élysées, 82km
- Stage 2: Meaux to Provins, 135km
- Stage 3: Reims to Épernay, 133km
- Stage 4: Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube, 126km
- Stage 5: Bar-le-Duc to Saint-Dié-des-Vosges, 175km
- Stage 6: Saint-Dié-des-Vosges to Rosheim, 128km
- Stage 7: Sélestat to Le Markstein, 127km
- Stage 8: Lure to Super Planche des Belles Filles, 123km
Riders to watch out for in this year’s Tour de France Femmes
This inaugural Tour de France Femmes will provide opportunities for every kind of rider – sprinters, climbers, and all-rounders will all have their chances to shine.
The opening stage in Paris favors the sprinters, and, on the day, provided a text book showcase for the teams to organize lead out trains to bring their sprinters to the head of the race over the last lap. As they accelerated they swallowed the lead of a lone breakaway rider, and launched two of the race favorites, Dutch riders Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), and Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM). Vos jumped ahead strongly with about 300 meters to go, but Wiebes was well placed to react and out-accelerated her to win by more than a bike length.
Watch for those two riders to dominate the points competition.
Over the coming days, the terrain becomes more hilly, with stages including short, steep climbs favoring the puncheurs, riders with a lot of power for a medium effort. Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), winner of this year’s Paris-Roubaix Femmes, and Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) will be riders to watch here, particularly on stage 4 on the gravel sections.
When the race hits the mountains, Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) will be at the front on the serious climbs. Watch out for Demi Vollering (SD Worx), Marta Cavalli and her teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope), to show strength in the last stages and contend overall victory.
Must-See Stages of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes
With only eight stages, it’s a little challenging to pick the ones that will be most important strategically. The race features varied terrain that will bring very different riding abilities to the fore, and most likely a variety of riders will be prominent in all the early stages, with strong competition for the coveted green (sprint/points competition) jersey on the flat stages, and the polka dot (queen of the mountains) jersey on the hilly days. Expect the decisive moves for the yellow jersey (overall leader) places to happen on stages 7 and 8, when the mountains offer opportunities to open significant time gaps.
From a scenery and spectacle point of view, stand out stages will begin with the opening circuit race in Paris, against the backdrop of those iconic Parisian monuments. Truly made for TV.
The prospect of white road sections, the chalky tracks winding through the wine country of Burgundy, will make stage 4 a visual highlight, and will be interesting from a tactical point of view. Not quite the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, but equivalent to gravel racing, and could mix things up in the peloton.
The last two stages will run over the Vosges massif mountain range, with famed climbs like the Ballon d’Alsace, and Grand Ballon, highest point of the race on stage 7. Either day could determine the overall winner of the Tour, but the last stage, with a mountain-top finish, and an opportunity for a last minute upset, will be the stage not to miss.
How to Watch the 2022 Tour de France Femmes
The event will be carried for 2 hours each day on French TV, which may be available via streaming in other regions, but for those of us in North America, the best bet will be NBC’s coverage. CNBC will feature highlights and coverage of the first and last stages, while their Peacock streaming channel will cover all eight stages in their entirety. Peacock Premium costs around $5 for a month, so that’s a pretty good deal, cheap indeed if you cancel after the race is over. That will let you watch live and replay complete coverage at any time.
Between the free official app from letour.fr with its live stream commentary and race tracking, and Peacock’s streaming video, you can stay abreast of the live race and enjoy complete video coverage or highlights at your leisure, for a very modest outlay.
The reborn women’s tour has already lifted other boats in the world of women’s pro cycling. New teams have been formed, other multi-day races organized around Europe, all creating more attention and investment in women’s cycling.
This time around, all signs point to a bright, exciting future for a more complete, equitable expansion of the the world’s greatest sporting event. Vive the Women’s Tour de France!