The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is due to be the highlight of the women’s cycling calendar in 2022. After a long time, the women’s peloton will get a major stage race with the backing of the Tour de France behind it. The biggest men’s race in the world will finally have a proper women’s race once again.
Tour de France Femmes history
This year sees the return of a women’s Tour de France race after a long period without. The original Tour de France Femmes was the Tour de France Féminin which ran from 1984-1989. After this, the new race director of the Tour de France, Jean-Marie Leblanc, cancelled the race citing the expense and limited sponsorship generated by it. New forms of the race carried on for many years, through different variations. The Tour of the EEC Women (1990-1993), Tour Cycliste Féminin (1992-1997), Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale (1998-2009) and La Route de France (2006-2016). The Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Féminin had run throughout from 1985-2010. To varying degrees, all these races assumed the title of being an unofficial Tour de France for women at various times.
The Tour Cycliste Féminin and Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale were run under the same organisers but ASO, organisers of the Tour de France, sued the organisers for their use of the word Tour in the race’s name. That necessitated the name change. Subsequently, races like La Route de France were careful about the title they gave their race. ASO finally began to host a Tour de France-esque race called La Course in 2014. Initially, it was a simple stage on the Champs Elysees but gradually women were given proper climbs like the Col d’Izoard to race. Each edition was just a one-day race, however, except 2017 in a way. 2017’s edition saw a mountain stage followed by a pursuit stage the next day. It was a major flop and not repeated. La Course’s last edition was in 2021, with the Tour de France Femmes taking precedence from 2022.
There was a Tour de France Féminin race back in 1955 which was run by a separate organiser. That race lasted 5 days and was won by the British rider from the Isle of Man, Millie Robinson. Riders won a white jersey rather than yellow, however, showing the separation between this race and the men’s Tour de France. The legendary Elsy Jacobs also took part before becoming the first women’s world champion 3 years later. She would go on to hold the women’s hour record too. It’s a strange quirk of history that the gap from this first race to the 1980s Tour de France Féminin is almost exactly the same as the gap from that race to this year’s Tour de France Femmes.
Tour de France Femmes Route
Stage 1 | Paris Eiffel Tower – Paris Champs-Élysées (82km)
Starting off with a return to the days of La Course, an easy stage to kick things off. The peloton will do 11 laps of the Champs-Élysees circuit and it should come down to a sprint.
Stage 2 | Meaux – Provins (135km)
Another stage that should be a sprint, the final part of the stage has a bit of punch though. It may be enough to distance some of the pure sprinters.
Stage 3 | Reims – Épernay (133km)
The difficulty gets turned up a notch on day 3, short steep climbs provide launch pads for attacks. If the steep Côte de Mutigny doesn’t cause a split, then the Mount Bernon with 4km to go may do the trick.
Stage 4 | Troyes – Bar-sur-Aube (126km)
Hilly + gravel
A new kind of test is the gravel roads through the vineyards with 13km of off-road sections ahead. Mixed in with those are regular climbs. A punchy sprinter may make it through but GC contenders will have to be careful to not lose time here.
Stage 5 | Bar-le-Duc – Saint-Dié-des-Vosges (175km)
This should be a sprint finish with only the Col du Haut du Bois an obstacle late on. Even then, with 20km left to the finish, sprint teams will have time to close any gaps that do appear.
Stage 6 | Saint-Dié-des-Vosges – Rosheim (128km)
This could be one for the breakaway but there’s also a late point for attacks with a summit coming within 8km of the finish. There’s an almost Trofeo Alfredo Binda like ending to this one.
Stage 7 | Sélestat – Le Markstein (127km)
The first major mountain test comes on the Petit Ballon and the Grand Ballon in the Alsace. It’s not a summit finish though so the final 7.5km will be an interesting test even if not completely decisive between the favourites.
Stage 8 | Lure – La Super Planche des Belles Filles (123km)
This is going to be a brutal finish to the race and a real test of who has kept their legs freshest. The ‘super’ version of La Planche des Belles Filles includes an extra gravel slope that goes up to 24%. The GC could be decided in the last few kilometres of the race.
Tour de France Femmes Teams
Canyon / / SRAM Racing (GER)
EF Education – Tibco – SVB (USA)
FDJ Nouvelle – Aquitaine Futuroscope (FRA)
Human Powered Health (USA)
Liv Racing Xstra (NED)
Movistar Team Women (ESP)
Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad (SUI)
Team BikeExchange – Jayco (AUS)
Team DSM (NED)
Team Jumbo – Visma (NED)
Team SD Worx (NED)
Trek – Segafredo (USA)
UAE Team ADQ (UAE)
Uno-X Pro Cycling Team (NOR)
Continental Teams with a guaranteed invite
Ceratizit – WNT Pro Cycling Team (GER)
Parkhotel Valkenburg (NED)
Valcar – Travel & Service (ITA)
Continental Teams with a wildcard invite
AG Insurance – NXTG Team (NED)
Arkéa Pro Cycling Team (FRA)
Cofidis Women Team (FRA)
Le Col Wahoo (GBR)
Plantur – Pura (BEL)
Stade Rochelais Charente-Maritime (FRA)
St Michel – Auber 93 (FRA)
Where to watch the Tour de France Femmes
In Europe, the Tour de France Femmes will be broadcast on Eurosport and GCN+. Plus a number of domestic free-to-air channels like France Télévisions, TV2 in Denmark/Norway, NOS in the Netherlands, VRT & RTBF in Belgium, TG4 in Ireland and RTVE in Spain.
For American viewers, Peacock has live coverage with Flobike providing pictures in Canada.
In Australia, SBS will have coverage of all of the Tour de France Femmes.
The online cycling platform Zwift will be a name sponsor, similar to their involvement in Paris Roubaix Femmes. They have promised to aid in the marketing of the Tour de France Femmes through their online events and mass rides. Riders from the teams involved in the Tour de France Femmes will lead rides on Zwift in an effort to bring more riders to wider attention. So fans can know riders throughout the peloton and more than just a handful of stars