Vos: Varied Tour de France Femmes route with welcome ‘Strade Bianche’ stage

MUR DE HUY BELGIUM APRIL 21 Marianne Vos of Netherlands and Team Jumbo Visma during the 24th La Fleche Wallonne 2021 Women Elite a 1302km race from Huy to Mur de Huy 204m FlecheWallonne FWwomen UCIWWT on April 21 2021 in Mur de Huy Belgium Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images
Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) has greeted the newly announced Tour de France Femmes route as a varied one which will have something for a spread of riders and while the absence of a time trial was a surprise, it didn't seem an unwelcome one for the rider with an enviable palmarès. 

The route for the eight-day Tour de France Femmes – which heralds the return of a women’s edition of the French stage-race after decades of absence – covers 1,029 kilometres starting at the foot of the Eiffel Tower on July 24 and delivering a mountaintop finale on the Super Planche des Belles Filles on July 31. There are lumpy stages for the puncheurs, flat ones for the bunch sprinters, a stage with gravel sectors and two days in the mountains to finish with.

“They’ve laid out a nice route,” Vos said in a team statement. “With the start in Paris at the same time as the finish of the men and then seven stages over diverse terrain, it is a varied route that different kind of riders will enjoy. It would be very nice for the tension in the race if the decisive moment only comes at the end.”

Potentially increasing the chances that the race will deliver a suspense filled ending is the lack of a time trial, regularly a decisive staple in the men’s edition of the race.

“To be honest, I did expect a time trial”, Vos continued. “It completes a stage race. But I also think that the tension is perhaps even stronger in a stage than in a time trial. This choice was perhaps made for that reason.”

The absence of a race against the clock, however, doesn’t mean that there aren’t crucial GC days outside the mountain stages, with the 126km stage 4 from Troyes to Bar-sur-Aube – which delivers six climbs and four sections of unpaved roads in the last 60km – likely to be an important one for the overall. It also could be a key stage for Vos, who has accumulated 30 stage wins in the Giro d’Italia Donne as well as taken three elite road world titles and seven in cyclo-cross.

“Of course the level of difficulty depends on the conditions and the kind of strips that are included,” Vos said. “I think it’s a stage that fits perfectly into such a race. It’s not just about the spectacle, of course, but I think a ‘Strade Bianche stage’ is wonderful in a stage race. From my cross experience, it should suit me, but ultimately, I think many riders can handle this well. We see that every year in Strade Bianche.” 

Vos – who along with Kathryn Bertine and Emma Pooley drove the push for the introduction of La Course in 2014 – added that the shift to an eight-day stage race would deliver considerable impact, with the running of the women's event after the men's race offering a targeted spotlight for both.

“Recognition does not only depend on the Tour de France and the ASO, but this is of course a great contribution," Vos said. "We’ve gotten a lot of great new races on the calendar in recent years. La Course was a very big step and the fact that the ASO has now decided to expand the one-day to an eight-day stage race is going to have a lot of impact. 

“The Tour is a race in which everyone wants to participate. I’m happy that the Tour is back in this capacity. I also think it’s good that the men’s and women’s Tour follow each other. That allows for keeping full focus on both races.”

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Production editor

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.