Set to commence on Sunday, July 23, in Clermont-Ferrand, the Tour de France Femmes 2023 promises to outshine its inaugural 2022 version, where Annemiek Van Vleuten claimed the first-ever title.
Across eight stages and a challenging 956 km route through central and southern France, the competitors will vie for glory, culminating in a thrilling race against the clock in Pau.
Can last year’s champions defend their titles, or will we witness unexpected surprises?
This year, the women’s Tour stands tall, shedding the shadow of the men’s event, asserting its independence with a unique starting point. As the event will be broadcast live globally, it offers an unparalleled platform for women’s professional cycling.
Get ready for a sneak peek into the grueling challenges and exhilarating rivalries awaiting the contenders in the 2023 Tour de France Femmes as we cover:
- Race History
- Route Of The Tour De France Femmes 2023
- Participating Teams
- Tour de France Femmes 2023: The Favorites
- Prize Money
- How To Watch The Tour De France Femmes 2023
Let’s dive in!
Women’s Tour de France History
The history of women’s Tour de France racing has been patchy at best.
After a one-off event in 1955, a women’s Tour de France wasn’t held again until 1984, when a race that was shorter but took place at the same time as the men’s event was introduced.
The first champion was American cyclist Marianne Martin. However, the event was only held until 1989, and struggled with financial difficulties and trademark issues with the men’s race, undergoing several name changes in the era.
Between 1989 and 2009, various women’s stage races were organized in France, but none were managed by ASO, the organizer of the Men’s Tour de France.
One notable event was the Tour Cycliste Féminin, which was later renamed the Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale, but this event ceased in 2009.
A significant shift happened in 2014 when a petition signed by over 93,000 people, including top female cyclists, led to ASO initiating La Course by Le Tour.
Prior to the Tour de France Femmes, La Course was the main women’s race associated with the Tour, and was typically a one or two-day event.
Victorious riders included prominent names like Demi Vollering, Lizzie Deignan, Marianne Vos, Annemiek van Vleuten, Chloe Hosking, and Anna van der Breggen.
In 2021, ASO announced the creation of the Tour de France Femmes, a new multi-stage women’s race. This event was aimed to be a permanent fixture in the WorldTour calendar.
The new Tour de France Femmes would be a week-long stage race, held after the end of the men’s race, following the same race format and classification systems as the men’s Tour.
While still not as long or well-funded as the three-week men’s Tour de France, it was a serious upgrade on La Course, and has the potential to grow significantly as media and sponsorship attention increases.
The first edition took place in 2022 and was won by Dutch cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten.
Route Of The Tour de France Femmes 2023
The route begins in Clermont-Ferrand and includes four flat stages, two hilly stages, and a pivotal mountain stage – the “Queen stage”. This challenging day ends with a summit finish on the iconic Tourmalet, after climbing the Aspin pass.
Stage 1: Clermont-Ferrand to Clermont-Ferrand, 124 km
The tour begins with a mostly flat route looping to the north of Clermont-Ferrand, followed by a slightly hilly route back to the city.
The Côte de Durtol, a 1.7 km climb at 7.2%, is expected to be crucial with its summit only 9 km from the finish line.
Stage 2: Clermont-Ferrand to Mauriac, 148 km
A hilly 148 km ride awaits on Stage 2.
With six opportunities to gain KOM points, it’s designed for the GC contenders. The route is consistently uphill, with the highest point at 1,265 m reached after 30 km.
Stage 3: Collonges-La-Rouge to Montignac-Lascaux, 147 km
It’s the first real chance for sprinters.
Following a series of hills, the final 55 km levels out significantly, with the last 12 km being completely flat.
Stage 4: Cahors to Rodez, 177 km
It’s the longest stage at 177 km, including four hills in the final section.
This stage demands endurance, particularly the final 20 km, which is marked by a series of challenging climbs.
Stage 5: Onet-le-Chateau to Albi, 126 km
It offers a mix of hilly and flat terrain.
The first 100 km features four major climbs, followed by a largely flat finish, making it ideal for a fast finisher with good climbing skills.
Stage 6: Albi to Blagnac, 122 km
The sprinters will be favored, despite featuring four short climbs.
These ascents are spaced out, giving dropped riders the opportunity to rejoin the pack before the finish.
Stage 7: Lannemezan to Col du Tourmalet, 77 km
The riders will be taken through two iconic climbs, the Col d’Aspin and the Col du Tourmalet.
Despite the short 77 km distance, it could be decisive for the overall victory.
Stage 8: Pau to Pau, ITT 22 km
The last day is a 22 km individual time trial around Pau.
It features a small midway climb and a final ascent but is otherwise predominantly flat. The last 400 m, climbing at 5.7%, could provide an exciting end.
This year, the number of riders allowed per team has been increased from six to seven.
All 15 Women’s WorldTour teams are participating. Additionally, 2 Continental teams also received mandatory invites as part of all WorldTour races this season.
There are 3 wildcard entries from French teams. Notably, Stade Rochelais, who finished the 2022 race with only one rider, did not receive an invitation this year.
AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step was also included again, no doubt helped by the addition of star cyclist Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio to their roster and their ambitions for the WorldTour.
The final team selection was between Parkhotel Valkenburg and Team Coop-Hitec Products, with the latter clinching the spot due to their strong performance at the beginning of the 2023 season.
In total, 24 teams will be competing.
- Team DSM-Firmenich
- FDJ – SUEZ
- Movistar Team
- Israel Premier Tech Roland
- Team Jumbo-Visma
- Team SD Worx
- Canyon//SRAM Racing
- Liv Racing TeqFind
- Uno-X Pro Cycling Team
- Human Powered Health
- Team Jayco AlUla
- Lidl – Trek
- EF Education-TIBCO-SVB
- UAE Team ADQ
- CERATIZIT-WNT Pro Cycling
- Lifeplus Wahoo
- AG Insurance – Soudal Quick-Step
- Arkéa Pro Cycling Team
- Cofidis Women Team
- St Michel – Mavic – Auber93 WE
- Team Coop – Hitec Products
Tour de France Femmes 2023: The Favorites
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar)
Aged 40, the Dutch cyclist is a strong favorite, being the defending champion and one of the best GC riders in the world.
She is expected to excel, especially with the inclusion of the Tourmalet and the final stage time trial, a discipline in which she has twice been the world champion.
Demi Vollering (SD Worx)
Another Dutch talent, 26-year-old Vollering, is expected to challenge Van Vleuten after her second-place finish last year.
Having secured an impressive treble during the spring at the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, she is in excellent form.
Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo)
This 31-year-old Italian cyclist won the inaugural UAE Tour Women, showing impressive form in climbing, which will be useful.
Despite disruptions due to Covid and an accident, she is expected to perform well.
Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez)
The 27-year-old Danish cyclist won a stage in 2022 and will aim to better her performance.
Her climbing abilities combined with the support of her strong team make her a outside contender for the GC.
Juliette Labous (DSM)
At just 24, the French cyclist Labous managed a fourth-place finish in 2022 and is expected to further develop this year.
Having had a good first experience, she is now better prepared to fight for the win.
Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)
After securing third place in the inaugural edition, Niewiadoma, aged 28, is a strong contender.
She was not far behind the leaders and could possibly challenge them this summer.
Ashleigh Moolman (AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step)
The 37-year-old South African cyclist, now free from her duties at SD Worx, is ready to challenge the leaders this year.
With a victory at the Tour de Romandie last year and a second place at Valenciana this season, she has demonstrated her form and capabilities.
SD Worx will be a formidable team with both Lotte Kopecky and Lorena Wiebes lining up.
Wiebes, one of the world’s fastest riders, already has two wins under her belt and will be eager for more. Kopecky, who has proven herself to be the best puncheur in the peloton this season, also stands a good chance of success.
Charlotte Kool (DSM) and Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) pose as formidable rivals to Wiebes in the sprints.
Both have managed to outpace the European champion at times this season, demonstrating her vulnerability. However, the extent of their freedom to chase stages, given their roles in supporting their respective leaders, is yet to be seen.
Finally, Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), the green jersey winner and victor of two stages, will likely be targeting the same success this year.
Tour de France Femmes Prize Money
The TDF Femmes 2023 is set to award a total of $225,000 in prize money across various competitions, including stage, jersey, and team categories.
The overall winner of the Tour de France Femmes 2023 (General Classification) will earn a substantial $45,000.
Further breakdown of the prize pool is as follows: the second-place finisher in the overall standing will receive $13,500, while the third-place finisher will get $9,000. Individual stage winners are set to receive $3,500 each.
In addition, smaller monetary rewards will be given for intermediate sprint points, mountain points, the most aggressive rider, and the team classification.
Though the prizes on offer are nothing to be sniffed at, it’s worth noting that they still pale in comparison to the prize pot for the men’s Tour de France.
How To Watch The Tour De France Femmes 2023
The race will be available to view across a variety of platforms, with France Télévisions providing a live broadcast for two-and-a-half hours each day for international viewers.
For those in the US, it will be aired on NBC’s streaming platform, Peacock, which also covers the men’s edition.
The platform offers a yearly subscription at an introductory rate of $19.99, but also offers monthly subscriptions for those only interested in viewing the event for July.
Additionally, CNBC will be broadcasting the Tour, although exact details regarding scheduling are still to be confirmed.
For the UK audience, it will be broadcast live on Eurosport TV. Subscribers to the Eurosport Player, Discovery+, or GCN+ will have access to uninterrupted coverage every day, along with on-demand highlights and pre- and post-race shows.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this comprehensive preview. Now we’d love to hear from you!
Which team are you rooting for? Who do you think will claim victory in Pau? Will we see new champions rise, or will our seasoned veterans defend their titles?
Let’s start the discussion below in the comments!