Former French champion Marion Rousse was announced as race director in early October and revealed the route alongside Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme with Zwift as title sponsor.
Tower of [North East of] France
The inaugural edition of the Tour de France Women will take place from July 24 to 31, 2022. Stage 1 takes place from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs-Élysées for a rapid opening of 82 km.
Usually I don’t agree with the idea of tying women’s races to the men’s equivalent – it can almost sound like a side show (some editions of The Course come to mind) – but it seems perfect.
Feeling the emblematic setting of the Champs-Élysées and setting off after the final of the Men’s Tour de France allows him to be autonomous and to carry the momentum from one Tour to another.
The first three editions of La Course took place on the Champs-Élysées, with Marianne Vos, Anna van der Breggen and Chloe Hosking each winning one victory.
Champagne is a name that evokes more pleasure than pain, but it could well prove the opposite on the fourth stage of the Tour de France Women. Six categorized climbs and four sectors of gravel roads await the peloton in the last 60 kilometers from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube.
Commenting on the inclusion of gravel sections, Marianne Vos said; “Of course, the level of difficulty depends on the conditions and the type of slopes included. I think it’s a stage that fits perfectly into such a race. It’s not just a show of course, but I think a “Strade Bianche stage” is wonderful in a stage race. From my XC experience this should be fine for me, but in the end I think a lot of riders can handle this well. ‘
Gravel roads are also a staple feature of the Strade Bianche in the Women’s WorldTour. After eight gravel sections and six climbs with countless small hills in Italy in her last season as a professional, Chantal van den Broek-Blaak won the 2021 edition ahead of Elisa Longo-Borghini and Anna van der Breggen. Van Vleuten dominated the race ahead of 2019, launching a solo attack on the final section of gravel for a time trial and fight his way to victory.
The chaos that accompanies the gravel is part of its charm, but it can lead to punctures and mechanics that cut the peloton without warning – bad luck, or just a feature of the course of the race, helping to shape races and podiums. Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) noted that these are the types of stages on which one can win or lose the whole race.
On the theme of gravel, the crowning glory of the first Tour de France Women takes the form of the monstrous La Super Planche des Belles Filles. Jewel of the queen stage, the heart-wrenching 7 km ascent ends on a section of gravel at the top. Short but far from sweet.
The runners are almost vertical a few hundred meters from the finish, a wall punishing those who climb it with drops of 20%. Be careful, this comes after the climbs of the Côte d’Esmoulières and the Ballon d’Alsace. Whoever arrives at the top of this category a killer first gets his name alongside Chris Froome, Vincenzo Nibali, Fabio Aru, Dylan Teuns and Tadej Pogacar in the Planche des Belles Filles Tour de France legacy.
It is clear that the Tour de France Women has a versatile course, with 1,029 km divided between sprints, mountains and the most impactful stages. If we look at it officially, they have organized two mountain stages, two hard-hitting stages and four flat stages. No time trial. The peloton will remain in the north of France throughout [hold for ‘that’s not a tour of France, then’ comments] limiting long transfers while remaining compact enough for the first edition.
2022 Tour de France Women’s Silver Prize: better, but not enough
So let’s talk about money. The Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) was recently criticized when it was revealed that the Paris-Roubaix Women winner, ultimately Lizzie Deignan, would get just € 1,535 compared to the male winner – Sonny Colbrelli – receiving 30,000 €. Trek-Segafredo said they will make up the difference, which is not expected to happen in 2021.
The total prize pool for the Tour de France Women will be € 250,000, of which € 50,000 will go to the winner of the General Classification. A sensational amount, but as activist Kathryn Bertine noted, only a tenth of the men’s Tour de France total remains. This represents a whopping 2.3 million euros. Judging from the stages, the Tour de France Women has an average race length 1/3 that of its male counterpart.
I only got a B in math from the GCSE, but even I can say that 1/3 of 2.3 million euros is not 250,000 €. That’s around € 766,666. Admittedly, their stages will be shorter than those of the men, but are we billed per kilometer when the UCI has set the maximum distance for the Women’s World Tour at 160 km?
Live coverage is also a hotly debated topic in women’s cycling.
To take the example of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, while it was a monumental historic event, only 52 km of the race ended up being broadcast live compared to the full coverage of the 258 km (and start neutralized) that the men received. We didn’t even see Deignan’s winning move.
There is a four-year deal in place to broadcast uninterrupted live coverage of the Tour de France Women, but we still don’t know if that will be for all stages. But the deal between Discovery Sports and Eurovision Sport will provide broadcasts across Europe and runs until 2025.
Favorite of the women of the Tour de France 2022: Who will make history?
Now who are the challengers? Without a starting list, it is difficult to determine exactly. But we can guess pretty well that a certain Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) will be at the start.
Currently recovering from his end-of-race accident at Paris-Roubaix Femmes, Van Vleuten will be on the second of his two-year contract with Movistar when the Tour de France Femmes begins. She won the general classification of the Ladies Tour of Norway this year with a victory over the very first mountain peak on the third stage. She must be considered the favorite of the race.
Behind her that day was Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (SD Worx), crossing the finish line in second and finally finishing in that same position in the overall standings behind Van Vleuten – 39 seconds later. Moolman-Pasio also placed second overall behind her teammate, Anna van der Breggen, now retired, in the Giro d’Italia Donne in 10 stages, currently the longest stage race for women. The South African rider claimed victory at the top finish of the Monte Matajur category 1 on the queen stage after 10 years of trying for a stage victory in the race.
Of course, Demi Vollering, also from the SD Worx team, will also have her sights set on the Tour de France Women. The Dutchwoman won the last edition of The Sprint Race ahead of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).
After finishing second in the Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race, Vollering also won Liège-Bastogne-Liège with an imposing sprint that edged Van Vleuten and Elisa Longo Borghini. Vollering went on to dominate the Women’s Tour GC by over a minute after six stages in October, and it will be interesting, if not exciting, to see her performance in an eight-day race.
It goes without saying that Marianne Vos will be an imposing figure in the peloton for such a historic event. Vos, who finished second at Paris-Roubaix Femmes at Deignan and at the World Road Racing Championships at Elisa Balsamo (Valcar-Travel & Service) in October, has barely rested on his laurels with a recent victory in two rounds of the UCI Cyclo-Cross. World Cup.
She consolidated her status as “GOAT” at the Giro Donne this year, winning two stages and bringing her to a monumental total of 30 race victories. Who else does like her? She praised the varied route to the Tour de France Women while admitting that the inclusion of a time trial would ‘complete’ a stage race, but acknowledged the tension that a style of different step.
The race will start on July 24, 2022. For more information, be sure to check out our full guide to the Tour de France Women 2022 which we will keep updated as more details emerge.