• The 2022 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will feature gravel roads. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The first-ever Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has confirmed the course for the 2022 edition. The route was announced overnight, with the historic nature of the women’s Tour de France emphasised during the ceremony.
By
SBS Cycling Central

6 DAYS AGO 

The 2022 Tour de France Femmes will cover 1,029 kilometres and features a concluding pair of mountain stages, two stages for the puncheurs, a stage packed with tough gravel sectors, and four flat stages that could be for the sprinters.

The first-time event will start in Paris on July 24, 2022, and conclude on July 31 with a mountain stage atop La Planche des Belles Filles, a summit finish that has formed a regular part of the men's Tour de France in recent years, and will do so again in 2022. 

The route was presented by Marion Rousse, who was recently appointed as the director of Tour de France Femmes, and ASO's Christian Prudhomme, race director for the men's race. 

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The cycling world is eagerly awaiting the itinerary for the first-ever Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, which will be presented by newly-appointed race director Marion Rousse.

"Women's cycling has evolved year after year, and it's an honour to be part of it," said Rousse. "For the first edition, we had to visit symbolic locations."

The course has certainly leant on the key iconography of France and the men's Tour de France in this inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

The race begins with an 82km stage around Paris, starting at the Eiffel Tower and finishing on the iconic Champs Elysées, a stage that will decide the first ever wearer of the yellow jersey of the race. 

Stage 2 heads from Meaux to Provins with a 135km course that won't cause huge difficulties, but could see a rider other than a pure sprinter take the win with an uphill run to the line.

The peloton will tackle five categorised ascents the next day before the final uphill finish at Epernay. The riders will tackle the finish line climb twice during the 133km stage, with the 12 per cent pitches of the Côte de Mutigny sandwiched between the Epernay finish, famous as the finish where Julian Alaphilippe went on the attack to claim the yellow jersey at the 2019 men's Tour de France. 

Stage 4 may throw a spanner in the works for the riders hoping to wait for the mountains at the finish of the eight stages, with six climbs and four sections of unpaved roads in the last 60km - a 4.4-km section the longest - as the peloton venture from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube over 126km.

Stage 5 from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-die-des-Vosges is the longest stage of the race with 175km of lumpy roads, longer than all of the one-day races that the peloton faces on the WorldTour circuit.

Stage 6 is a more modest 128km from Saint-die-des-Vosges to Rosheim and looks like another opportunity for the sprinters if the teams can summon up the firepower to drag back the attackers. There are four categorised climbs on route and the final ascent of the Côte de Boersch - with a gradient of over six per cent - could provide a chance for attackers to stay away.

The final two days are some of the hardest in women's calendar, comparable to the harder days at the Giro Rosa. The winner is almost certain to be decided on those two final stages with back-to-back mountain stages in the Vosges mountains.

The first of the two stages will see the peloton tackle three major ascents, including the Grand Ballon - 13.5km at 6.7 per cent - before a downhill run to the line in Le Markstein. The stage also includes the ascents of the Petit Ballon (9.3 km, 8.1 per cent) and Col du Platzerwasel (7.1 km, 8.3 per cent) and will be one of the toughest stages of the entire race. 

The 123km final stage will be the queen stage however, with the riders finishing atop La Super Planche des Belles Filles. The 7km climb to Super Planche des Belles Filles has pitches over 20 per cent, finishing on the gravel section beyond the standard summit. 

While the standard summit has featured regularly in recent years of the Tour, the extra gravel path is an even newer addition, which was first featured in the men's Tour in 2019, a day won by Dylan Teuns from the breakaway.

It shapes a varied course, the rider who wins will no doubt come from a select group of climbers within the top echelons of the women's peloton, but will have to navigate serious difficulties ahead of the final mountain tests.

You can watch all the live action from the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift from 24 July to 31 July on SBS, the home of the cycling.