Viewers embrace Tour de France Femmes as French tally alone nears 20 million

Movistar Teams Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten wearing the overall leaders yellow jersey cycles in the final kilometers of the ascent of La Super Planche des Belles Filles to win the 8th and final stage of the new edition of the Womens Tour de France cycling race 1233 km between Lure and La Super Planche des Belles Filles on July 31 2022 Photo by Bernard PAPON various sources AFP Photo by BERNARD PAPONAFP via Getty Images
Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) riding to victory at the Tour de France Femmes 2022 with a camera alongside broadcasting images to more than 5 million viewers in France alone on that final stage (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

If there was ever any doubt about whether or not women’s cycling could attract widespread audience interest, the official viewer numbers released by the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on Wednesday have categorically laid them to rest. The finale alone, where Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) took victory atop La Super Blanche des Belles Filles, was watched by more than five million French viewers.

In total there were nearly 20 million viewers in France across the eight days of racing, with an average per stage of 2.25 million on France 2 and France 3 delivering an audience share of 26.4%, according to official Tour de France Femmes figures. 

Beyond, there was a reach of 14 million viewers on Eurosport and In the Netherlands, the average audience share tracked at a huge 45%. Dutch riders dominated the Tour winning all but one of the stages of the July 24 to 31 race and taking out a clean sweep of the individual jerseys, right from the yellow of the race leader to the green points jersey won by Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma).

The women’s edition of the Tour de France returned this year after a 33 year absence, however on its reintroduction it was preceded by a blunt warning, with Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme saying that if it lost money it would end up like the women's Tour in the 80’s and die.

The audience interest in the broadcast of the Tour de France Femmes, along with enthusiastic roadside attendance and a strong response across various content access points – including 22 million video views on the official platforms and 2.8 million visits to the race website – seem a clear positive indicator of the success of the event.

Across social media platforms, the most viewed video of the race was the final kilometre of stage 3, won by Denmark’s Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig who rides for French team FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope.

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The race was broadcast for two hours each day, therefore had considerably less time on air to accumulate the stage by stage viewer numbers than the men's event, but that still far exceeded the Women’s WorldTour mandated minimum of 45 minutes live coverage. It was also a quality of broadcast leagues ahead of the norm for women’s cycling. 

There were 22 hours of live coverage of the eight-stage Tour de France Femmes on France Télévisions compared with more than 100 hours of live coverage of the 21 stage Tour de France. 

Taking a look at how viewer numbers compared between the women's and men’s race, the Tour de France average audience on France 2 sat at 4 million viewers delivering 41.3% audience share, while the Tour de France Femmes audience of 2.25 million across France 2 and 3 delivering a 26.4% audience share. The peak for the men’s race was 8.4 million viewers for stage 12, which finished atop Alpe d’Huez on Bastille Day and the top audience share of 62.8% came on stage 11 to Col du Granon. The peak of 5.1 million viewers and 45.6% audience share for the Tour de France Femmes both came on the final stage.

Van Vleuten rode over the line in yellow on that final stage, having secured a hard to beat race lead of more than three minutes on stage 7 with a long-range attack. That was the first of two pivotal GC days in the mountain for the race, which started on the Champs-Élysées the same day that the men's event concluded.

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Australia Editor

Simone is a degree-qualified journalist that has accumulated decades of wide-ranging experience while working across a variety of leading media organisations. She joined Cyclingnews as a Production Editor at the start of the 2021 season and has now moved into the role of Australia Editor. Previously she worked as a freelance writer, Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg. Cycling was initially purely a leisure pursuit for Simone, who started out as a business journalist, but in 2015 her career focus also shifted to the sport.