Tour de France Femmes History
The Tour de France Femmes, the women’s equivalent of the iconic men’s race, has a rich history. The very first equivalent of the Tour de France Femmes was held in 1955 and won by the Brit Millie Robinson but it was a one-off event. It took until 1984 with the “Tour de France Féminin” for a true event, with the inaugural race won by Marianne Martin of the United States. From 1984 to 1989, the event ran concurrently with the men’s Tour de France, but on a reduced scale, featuring fewer stages and shorter distances. The race was viewed as an important step forward for women’s cycling, providing a platform for talented female athletes to showcase their abilities on an international stage.
In 1990, the race rebranded as the Tour of the EEC and lost its connection to the Tour de France. There were 4 versions of this race before it folded. An alternative race, first called Tour Cycliste Féminin and then Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale after ASO (organisers of the Tour de France) threatened legal action took place between 1992-2009. At its peak, the race held 14 stages but gradually dwindled down to 4 by its last edition.
An ASO-led race, La Course, filled the gap from 2014. Under pressure from high-profile women’s cyclists, like Marianne Vos, under the banner of Le Tour Entier, ASO finally relented and began to host something Tour de France branded for women. The initial races were held on the Champs Elysees before branching out into one-day locations elsewhere in France. It ran until 2021 when the situation changed.
In 2020, a major development occurred when the organisers of the men’s Tour de France, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), announced the return of a women’s race, now rebranded as the “Tour de France Femmes“. The event was set to debut in 2022 with a promise of extensive television coverage to boost the profile of women’s cycling. The revival of the women’s Tour de France was met with great enthusiasm and optimism, marking a significant milestone in the history of the sport and providing a powerful platform for women cyclists. Annemiek van Vleuten won the first edition.
Annemiek van Vleuten
Tour de France Femmes 2023 Profiles
Stage 1 Profile
Stage 2 Profile
Stage 3 Profile
Stage 4 Profile
Stage 5 Profile
Stage 6 Profile
Stage 7 Profile
Stage 8 Profile (TT)
Tour de France Femmes 2023 Contenders
SD Worx are making sure that they make up for last year’s 2nd place at the Tour de France Femmes by bringing a super strong line-up. Demi Vollering has been in super strong form so far in 2023. In the 5 stage races she’s competed in, the Dutch rider has won 2 and finished 2nd on 3 occasions. A pair of those 2nd places were behind teammates and the other was behind Annemiek van Vleuten at the Vuelta Femenina in a loss that will surely smart still. Demi will go into this year’s race as the GC favourite. She’s supported by Lorena Wiebes who could be looking for a haul of anywhere between 3 and 5 stages in all likelihood having seen the way she’s climbing this year. That might lead to some toes being trodden on with Lotte Kopecky who will be earmarking some of the same punchy stages here and also has strong form, from racing juniors in Belgium as well interestingly. Marlen Reusser will look to emulate her stage win from last year’s race which will have to be achieved in a similar fashion with a long break. She’s going to be a do-it-all super domestique for most of the race, powering along for Wiebes and Kopecky in their finishes and working for Demi in the mountains too.
The biggest fight for the GC is going to come from Annemiek van Vleuten who is chasing a triple-double of Vuelta Femenina, Giro Donne and Tour de France Femmes wins. We’re not quite sure of her level compared to Demi Vollering now. Whilst she won at the Vuelta Femenina it required a lot of tactics and luck rather than strength to pull it off. She looked a lot more like her old self at the Giro Donne, hinting that she might have closed the gap that we saw at Itzulia Women. Teammate Liane Lippert will be on hand to support and will probably have to put any GC ambitions of her own on hold until next year. There is the odd stage that suits her punchy abilities and Movistar might want to roll the dice with her there. Emma Norsgaard has talked of being more of a Kopecky-type rider rather than a bunch sprinter and that seems to be backed up by a good, solid week at the Baloise Ladies Tour where she stayed out of trouble. There are rolling stages here where she could do well.
With 3 wins already this season, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio has looked in good shape. So much so that she has deferred her retirement for another year and prolonged her stay with AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep. The South African isn’t quite on the same tier as favourite Vollering and Van Vleuten but will be one of the best of the chasing pack. She was 2nd on Hautacam behind Cavalli and we can expect her to be in the battle for the podium. Teammate Lotta Henttala will be the team’s best shout in the sprints. She’s had spates of illness this season but still has a pair of 2nd places behind Elisa Balsamo at the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana and 6th back at both Nokere Koerse and the Ronde van Drenthe.
It’s tough to know exactly where to place FDJ-Suez at the Tour de France Femmes. At their best Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Marta Cavalli are contenders but I think they’re both in that tier below the top pair. Marta Cavalli was looking good on Hautacam at the CIC Tour Pyrénées and was also going well at the Giro Donne until a crash took her out of the high positions. Uttrup Ludwig managed to finish 6th at the Giro Donne after a quiet start to that race. That could be a sign that she was working her way to form after altitude and will be ready for the Tour de France Femmes. I think Grace Brown will end up working for the team’s lead pair for the most part but could be a useful foil for stage wins as well. The Aussie has won this year at the Tour Down Under and Bretagne Ladies Tour but has largely been an elite worker in most of the Women’s WorldTour races this year. Evita Muzic is another shout for stage wins and might just be considered less of a GC threat enough to be given some leeway on some of the punchy stages.
Claire Steels has been one of the signings of the 2023 season. She took a win at reVolta and looked very strong attacking to 2nd place at the British national championships. She’s been in and around the top-10 at most races this season, including 6th in GC at the Tour de Suisse a month ago. Her team support won’t be as strong as some of the other major favourites but there’s a realistic shot at the top 10 GC here.
Up against Lorena Wiebes in the purer sprints will be Charlotte Kool. Last year she was Wiebes’ lead out and now she’s a leading star in the sprints in her own right. She’ll be coming off 4 straight stage wins at the Baloise Ladies Tour but finished that race by pulling out with sickness. She beat Wiebes twice at the UAE Tour to show her level and has other WWT wins at the RideLondon Classique and Vuelta Femenina. Teammate Pfeiffer Georgi will assist Kool in taking sprints but is also an interesting wildcard in her own right. A strong one-day racer all year, she’s also good against the clock too. There’s a chance we the new British national champion go stage hunting or secure a GC finish in the top 20 too. The team’s GC hope will be Juliette Labous who is coming off a very strong Giro Donne result of 2nd in GC. She was consistent throughout, finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th on stages and has a decent enough TT in her lock to do well in GC here too. A solid bet for the top 10, she might also feature in the podium conversation too with a good week.
Coming off the back of this week’s news that Jayco-AlUla and Liv Racing Xstra are going to be merging in 2024, Mavi Garcia is the key GC rider for the team in purple. She finished 7th overall at the Giro Donne, an improvement on her 9th at the Vuelta Femenina. At times she looks like a genuine threat for higher places than these but is left doing a lot of work by herself as her team support evaporates on the climbs. The TT in this year’s Tour de France Femmes will probably stop a high top-10 placing but it would be a surprise if she didn’t match her other results this season. The team also has Rachele Barbieri for the sprints who hasn’t quite been able to hit the same form as 2022. Top 10s at the Giro Donne were encouraging though coming into this race.
A rider who impressed at the Giro Donne was American rider Veronica Ewers who finished 4th there. She’d had a relatively quiet season after her 2022 results but suddenly in Italy, it all came together for her. 2nd on Stage 4, she began to struggle a little towards the tail-end of the week but was able to maintain her 4th place with a sprint for bonus seconds on the final day. You can never rule out something from Paris Roubaix Femmes winner Alison Jackson either.
Trek’s Elisa Balsamo has had a race to be fit again for this year’s Tour de France Femmes after a crash at RideLondon Classique. There she fractured her scaphoid as well as both jaw bones. She was due to do a warm-up event at the Baloise Ladies Tour but was pulled off the start list at late notice. At her best, the Italian is a solid rival for Lorena Wiebes but hasn’t won since February now, despite 4 2nd places in her results in the meantime. Elisa Longo Borghini will be the team’s strongest GC threat. She was on course to seriously challenge Van Vleuten at the Giro Donne but was caught out by a corner on a descent and had a large crash. Ready to go again, she is certainly in the podium conversation and might be able to beat Vollering/Van Vleuten as well.
Riejanne Markus represents a quietly good option for the GC here. The Dutch rider is looking like one of the strongest TT riders in the peloton this season and also won the Navarra Elite Classics one-day race. Maybe not quite on the same level as some of the purer climbers here, she won’t be too far behind but also has the time trial to negate her uphill losses. She was 4th in the Vuelta Femenina and there’s a pathway to the podium for her at this year’s Tour de France Femmes. Marianne Vos took the yellow jersey last year, an achievement that simply added to the already weighty gravitas of her palmares. A pair of stage wins last year also helped. Her 2023 season has been a hard one to call. 2 individual stage wins and a TTT win at the Vuelta Femenina this year are encouraging but for the first time, Vos didn’t take a Giro Donne win, being forced into 2nd place twice.
Canyon SRAM certainly has options and should go in with Kasia Niewiadoma as the main GC leader. The Pole has been solid this year with 4th at the Tour de Suisse, 3rd Itzulia Women and 10th at the Vuelta Femenina. Stages 2 and 4 should suit her well too. Teammate Ricarda Bauernfeind has been struggling with a knee injury since finishing 5th at the Vuelta Femenina. That has seen her DNF her two most recent stage races but she still secured 4th at German nats. It’s tough to make a prediction with confidence depending on how her knee fares. Probably expect Elise Chabbey to go for the polka-dot jersey if she can. The Swiss rider is a great all-rounder and there is an outside chance for a Reusser-esque stage win. There’s plenty to like in this year’s Tour de France Femmes for the likes of Soraya Paladin and Maike van der Duin. Both sprint well after climbing stages, with Paladin more likely to be there on the tougher days. Both have numerous top-10s throughout the year and whilst Van der Duin probably won’t beat Wiebes, she will still be well up there.
Clara Koppenburg is going to be a threat on the Tourmalet but the time trial will probably hamper chances for a very high GC placing. We’ve seen her finish 2nd on Mont Ventoux in the past but ended up 7th on Hautacam this year. At her best, we’ve seen the German come close to matching the top-tier climbers and she should certainly be in the top 10 conversation.
Ceratizit WNT has a wealth of options without one key GC rider. Maybe Cédrine Kerbaol turns into the highest place finisher for them. The French rider was 9th on Hautacam and became the French national TT champion this year too. If nothing else, she has a genuine shot at the white youth jersey. When it comes down to hilly sprints, of which there are plenty this year, they can rely on Kathrin Schweinberger who has a run of 7 top-10s dating back to the end of May. Marta Lach showed she can do likewise with 8th in GC and a stage win at Bretagne Ladies Tour and 6th in GC at Thüringen Ladies Tour too. Alice Maria Arzuffi has been consistent this year and was 3rd at the Baloise Ladies Tour as part of a successful breakaway. Arianna Fidanza‘s quick start to the season, including a win at Almeria, has been a little bit derailed since due to crashes and injuries. The Italian still scored a pair of 2nd places at the Bretagne Ladies Tour though.
Tour de France Femmes 2023 Outsiders
It’s going to be interesting to see how Jenny Rissveds fares in the Women’s WorldTour peloton. The Swede has certainly done well on the road already, winning Gracia Orlová and finishing 4th at Baloise Ladies Tour last week. She can certainly sprint and time trial but it’s finding out where she stacks up against the hilly sprinters like say, Paladin. Anything is possible with a high potential upside.
Arkea’s Dani de Francesco has been a little quiet since the start of May when she finished 8th at GP Plumelec-Morbihan. Maybe that’s due to racing constantly since early January. She can be a good rolling terrain sprinter when she’s in form. Her teammate Megan Armitage is knocking on the door as well. She was 13th in GC at the Thüringen Ladies Tour but that hides the sheer number of times she was seen almost making it to the front group at key moments. Also don’t forget that she won the GC at the Vuelta Extremadura Féminas.
Another home team is St Michel-Mavic-Auber93 with a decent trio of lead riders. Canadian Simone Boilard can get results anywhere, from 8th at Ronde de Mouscron to 7th at the much hillier Alpes Gresivaudan Classic. Coralie Demay got the nod at the Bretagne Ladies Tour and finished 2nd overall after a decent time trial. We’ve seen her win hilly stages at the Tour de l’Ardeche before and should get into some breaks. Dilyxine Miermont is also an option after a solid showing on climbing races this year. 4th at Alpes Gresivaudan Classic is the best but she also finished 13th on Hautacam and the WWT level UAE Tour.
Natalie Grinczer has signed for LIfeplus-Wahoo in the last week or so and goes straight into the Tour de France Femmes team. The Brit has had a good year whilst at Stade Rochelais and is certainly ready to move up. Her best results so far in 2023 is 5th at the GP Eibar and 6th in the British nat champs where she hung onto an elite group of WWT racers. She’s been at her best in hilly one-day races and we could see her be active on a couple of the stages here.