The announcement for the first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is coming and will be brought live to you on SBS OnDemand on Thursday evening from 2025 AEDT, alongside the men's Tour de France route announcement.
Yes, there have been women's Tours de France in the past, but this is the first in the new generation of women's cycling, a professional era with some real momentum around teams, events and the future of the sport.
So, what to expect from the announcement of the women's Tour de France course on Thursday evening? The most important action will be on the road next year at the end of July, but this announcement will set the stage and perhaps, more importantly, set the level of ambition for the event from organisers ASO. Here's my personal wishlist for what we will see from the presentation for the eight-stage event.
1. A Champs-Élysées spectacular
The race will start on the same day as the conclusion of the men's Tour de France, the normal finale on the Champs-Élysées part of the pageantry of the Tour each year. What it lacks in meaningful racing is made up for in spades by the grandeur of the spectacle and the almost 'reward' of the occasion, a tribute to the three weeks that preceded it.
It will be a different situation for the women racing, but there's still plenty of scope for something that will capture the emotion and excitement of the moment. In the past, editions of La Course have been run on the Champs-Élysées, and while the riders have spoken of the atmosphere of those occasions, it's time to create a point of difference from the men. Rather than a sprint opening, let's have a prologue or team time trial, rolling out from the middle of the Arc de Triomphe.
2. Another country hosting a stage
This may be logistically difficult, but incorporating other countries into the Tour de France is a long tradition, and would be a good way to incorporate more of the world into what is road cycling's global event. Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany or Switzerland due to their proximity to Paris, and would make the most sense without a long transfer by plane mid-race.
My favourite would be the Netherlands, fitting in the country's connection with women's cycling, I'd nominate a penultimate stage to be held in hilly Limburg as an Amstel Race-lite sort of course.
3. A spectacular summit finish
The legendary summits of the Tour de France are the moments where everyone tunes in to watch. The snaking switchbacks of Alpe D'Huez, the naked moonscape atop Mont Ventoux or the monstrous Col du Tourmalet have made their way into the fabric of the great race.
Of course, the women's Tour de France shouldn't just be trying to recreate the men's race, but there is something about the summit finishes on these picturesque peaks that captures the imagination. My pick would be something a little closer to Paris, and while it does have a Tour de France reputation, it is a relatively recent one.
The Planche des Belles Filles has been the sight of a number of summit finishes now, a modern classic, fitting with the immediate impact the women's Tour de France hopes to have. This will limit the type of rider that can win the race to a select few, however, which isn't ideal, so it should be in the final few stages, perhaps the finale itself.
4. A difficulty of a different sort
This race wants to crown a rider at the pinnacle of the sport, and a lot is made of the early difficulties, typically in the first week of the Tour de France where organisers throw something different at riders whether it's cobbles, crosswind days, a classics-inspired route or an extra time trial.
In my fictive Tour de France Femmes, we're already heading to the Netherlands, so I'd throw in a stage in Zeeland, and hope for the peloton-splitting winds howling off the North Sea.
5. Open stages for racing
Beyond all, the race should look to showcase women's cycling at its best and a mix of open stages that allow attacking and points of difficulty which could beckon for those looking to make a long-range move will give the riders that opportunity.
It's mostly the riders that make a race, but I've seen plenty of situations where there is very little opportunity to do so on women's courses. The example that springs to mind is the Doha World Championships course, the men were sent out into the desert with a long section for the crosswinds to take effect, which they did, meanwhile, the women did the urban loop with very little in way of difficulty to aid in splitting up the race, with the bunch arriving for a sprint finish.
We're beyond such things now (fingers crossed), and a new era for cycling is upon us. The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift course announcement is coming up, and it's time to set the anticipation levels for the next nine months.
The announcement for the first Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is coming and will be brought live to you on SBS OnDemand on Thursday evening from 2025 AEDT.