This year’s Tour de France Femmes doesn’t see too many flat pure sprint stages. Sprinters will need a bit of hill resistance to maximise their opportunities on this parcours. There are potentially 5 finishes for sprinters but some of them are dependent on getting over late climbs and chasing down attacks from the punchier climber types. There isn’t really any day to relax this Tour de France Femmes but Stages 1, 3, 5 and 6 look the most likely but still contain stings in the tail.
Top sprinters at the 2023 Tour de France Femmes
The unofficial best sprinter in the women’s peloton, she spent 2022 going almost unbeaten in a sprint whereas there has been the odd weakness in 2023. Twice beaten by Charlotte Kool at the UAE Tour, since then we’ve not seen a proper head-to-head between the pair. Wiebes did have the beating of Elisa Balsamo though when they raced each other at the Vuelta Femenina for instance. Wiebes is climbing better than ever in 2023 and that will undoubtedly be with an eye on the stages here. She could be looking for a haul of anywhere between 3 and 5 stages in all likelihood if things go to plan.
Lorena Wiebes’ lead-out rider last season, Charlotte Kool moved up to the lead sprinter spot when Wiebes moved to SD Worx. She quickly made a mark by outsprinting her former leader at the UAE Tour on two stages to take the win. Confidence will be high after taking 4 straight stage wins at the Baloise Ladies Tour but she finished that race by pulling out with an overnight sickness. She also has other WWT wins at the RideLondon Classique and Vuelta Femenina and would love to beat Lorena Wiebes again.
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. She is one of the very few riders who can outsprint Lorena Wiebes but hasn’t done it in 2023 so far.
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. There also hasn’t been a big classics win either. She should be relatively secure on the hilly sprint stages and be in a good position able to contest them.
The Italian is knocking on the door of the top tier of sprinters but misses out for now until she can beat the likes of Kool, Wiebes and Balsamo for a win. She did beat Wiebes for the first time earlier this year at the UAE Tour but it was to 2nd behind a dominant Charlotte Kool. We know that Consonni can beat Vos though, as she showed on the final day of the Giro Donne this year. She’s also deceptively decent enough at certain hilly races as well, always doing well at Dwars Door Vlaanderen. A win at the Tour de France Femmes would be a huge statement and solid evidence that the top 3 sprinters might be about to become a foursome.
Maike van der Duin
Maike van der Duin’s 2023 season has possibly gone under the radar a little because she’s only done 11 race days due to her track commitments. But 4 of those 11 races have seen her finish on the podium, 3 of which were at the Women’s WorldTour level. She’s not quite on the same level as say Wiebes but her form this year has been very good and she has the potential to be well up there. In last year’s Tour de France Femmes Van der Duin was 5th and 6th on a few stages and could do better than that this year.
Not particularly a pure sprinter these days, Lotte Kopecky will be disappointed if she doesn’t come away from this year’s Tour de France Femmes with a stage win. The hillier sprint stages should give her the best shot and with 9 wins already in 2023, including the Tour of Flanders, it’s hard to see her coming away from this race without that maiden win in France. There will be a cross-over with Lorena Wiebes though as both will feel like they can win certain stages here. It will be up to SD Worx team management to set clear goals to keep each rider happy with the outcome.
A solid week at the Baloise Ladies Tour saw her finish 2nd in GC and take 4 podiums along the way. That combined with her 2nd at the Vuelta Femenina is a sign that the Dane is in some form going into this year’s Tour de France Femmes. Probably less of a pure sprinter, she will likely do best on the hillier sprint stage options. Strangely enough, her only win in 2023 so far is in a TT at the Danish champs. Behind that though, there’s a wealth of top 10 results in a variety of race types.
It’s been a tougher season this year for Barbieri after a successful 2022 season. The Giro Donne was solid though with 5th and 6th in sprints there. Compared to some on this list, the Italian is more of a purer sprinter so might not be in contention for all of the opportunities for sprinters at the 2023 Tour de France Femmes. She took a pair of 4th places in last year’s race as well and in her best form that’s certainly achievable against the strength of these riders.
AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep’s Lotta Henttala will be that team’s best shout in the sprints. The Finn has 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. Without those illnesses, Henttala could’ve achieved a lot more in her return to top-level racing this year. Like Barbieri, she is a bit more of a purer sprinter and might get dropped on some of the climbier sprint days.