Tour de France Femmes 2022: History, Route and Stages
The first edition of the Tour de France Femmes is all about brutal climbs, gravel sectors and summit finishes.
A women’s version of the Tour de France has been a hot topic for many years. In fact, we’ve seen various iterations of the road cycling event come and go. 2022 sees the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift which promises eight stages of hard-fought racing around France from Sunday 24th July.
History of the women’s Tour de France
The first women’s Tour de France (aptly named the Tour de France Women) was held in 1984 and included the same finish lines as the men’s race. Back then, the UCI had rules on how far women could ride in race and indeed how much rest they were obliged to take. This led to the women’s race covering just 1080km of the 4000km men’s race and taking five rest days throughout the 18 stages as opposed to just one day for the 23-stage men’s race.
Fast forward a few years to 1990 and the name changed to Tour of the EEC Women and lasted until 1993. Another name change in 1997 paved the way for the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale running annually (with the exception of 2004) until 2009.
Six barren years followed until the launch of La Course by Le Tour de France. While many welcomed the return of a women’s race associated with the Tour de France, some fans and critics were disappointed with the shortened version. “In the future, it would be great to expand this to a full stage race for us to really show what we’ve got,” said Leah Kirchmann of Team Sunweb at the time.
Well, now is the future!
“We want to create a race that is still around in 100 years,” said Christian Prudhomme, director of race organiser Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) referring to the defunct editions which have failed to achieve this. “It was also obvious to us at ASO that we needed a woman to direct this event,” he said as he introduced former French national champion Marion Rousse as the race director at the official route launch on 14th October.
So, let’s take a look at the route.
Where does the women's Tour de France start?
The first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will begin in Paris, France. The city most famous for the final stage of the Tour de France will kick off proceedings for the women’s race in 2022.
Stages of the Tour de France Femmes
Stage 1: Paris – Paris: 82km
Just like the first edition of the men’s race in 1903, the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will begin on the streets of Paris. Riders will race 12 laps of a set course starting at the Eiffel Tower and ending on the historic cobbles of the Champs Elysees. The QOM for this stage will be on the ninth lap of the Champs Elysees.
Stage 2: Meaux – Provins: 135km
The second stage of the Tour de France Femmes departs from nearby the Museum of the Great War in Meaux. This stage of the race will pay homage to all the women who served in WWI. The 135km course takes in sweeping views of the Seine-et-Marne region just north of Paris. The stage culminates in a circuit of Provins with the finish line is atop a short but sharp incline.
Stage 3: Reims – Épernay: 133km
Reims plays host to stage 3 of the Tour de France avec Zwift. Reims is steeped in cycling history but perhaps most notably it hosted the debut Women’s Road Race at the UCI World Championships in 1958. Throughout this stage riders will feel a few steep gradients under their wheels. Though the altitude isn’t much to write home about, the Cote de Mutigny on the final circuit of the route will no doubt prove to be the deciding factor in the race.
Stage 4: Troyes – Bar-sur-Aube: 126km
The Champagne region of France is next up on stage 4 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. The long reaching views of vineyards might be a treat for viewers but underneath the tyres of the peloton you’ll see no fewer than four gravel tracks. They begin after 68km of racing and those riders with a background in cyclocross could be at an advantage on this stage. The longest gravel sector is 4.4km and the hills that punctuate this stage will also make the race interesting.
Stage 5: Bar-le-Duc – Saint-Dié-des-Vosges: 175km
The longest stage of the Tour de France Femmes appears on stage 5 as the race heads for the Vosges region of France. At 175km, this stage is 20km longer than the previous World Championships route. Saint-Dié-des-Vosges is the only city to host a finish and start of this race in 2022.
Stage 6: Saint-Dié-des-Vosges – Rosheim 128km
From the Vosges, the race will take a convoluted route to the Alsace region to the town of Rosheim. Though it’ll be a somewhat easier stage than the previous day’s racing, there are still some obstacles to overcome not least the climb just 10km from the finish line.
Stage 7: Selestat - Le Markstein: 127km
Stage 7 of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift takes place in the Alsace, another winemaking region of France. The route begins in Selestat and the first of three climbs takes place around 40km into the stage. This will be a stage for the general classification (yellow jersey) riders.
- Petit Ballon is a 9.3km climb with an average gradient of 8.1%
- Col du Platzerwasel is a 7.1km climb with an average gradient of 8.3%
- Grand Ballon is a 13.5km climb with an average gradient of 6.7%
Stage 8: Lure – La Super Planche des Belles Filles: 123km
The final stage of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is a monster! While it begins relatively benignly, the riders will soon need to dig deep with three climbs, the final being a summit finish. Those who don’t make it over the first climb with the leaders may find it difficult to chase them down for the remainder of the stage. La super Planche des Belles Filles features gradients of up to 24% complete with a gravel track up to the finish line.
- Cote d’Esmoulieres at 52km is short at just 2.3km but has a gradient of 8.5%
- Ballon d’Alsace is 8.7km with an average gradient of 6.9%
- La super Planche des Belles Filles is a 7km climb with an average gradient of 8.7%
"It’s brutal with very high gradients!” exclaimed Marion Rousse. “It’s never flat and you can’t recover. It will come after seven days of racing and there will be big gaps at the finish," she added.
Jerseys of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift
The jerseys that will be awarded during the Tour de France Femmes are the same as the men’s race. The yellow jersey (also known as the Maillot Jaune) will be won by the leader of the general classification, the green jersey will go to the best sprinter and the polka dot jersey to the best climber. Finally, the white jersey will be awarded to the best young rider on the general classification.
Ever wondered what each of the Tour de France jerseys mean? Read our guide to find out!
All eyes on July 2022
We’re really looking forward to how our women’s teams will fare during the first edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. Look out for our riders on the streets and gravel sectors of France from Sunday 24th July 2022!