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Adieu to La Course as women's peloton welcomed into Tour de France - Preview

The first edition of La Course in 2014 on the Champs-Élysées, where the Tour de France Femmes will begin again in 2022
The first edition of La Course in 2014 on the Champs-Élysées, where the Tour de France Femmes will start a new chapter in 2022 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

It's been over three decades since women have competed in the pinnacle of professional cycling – the Tour de France – with Marianne Martin, Maria Canins and Jeannie Longo having won their yellow jerseys between 1984 and 1989.

This July marks a pivotal moment as a world-class peloton of 24 teams take their places on the start line at the return of a women's version of the Grand Tour, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.

The event from July 24-31 will open at the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris and the women's field will compete in a circuit race along the Champs-Élysées. 

It's a fitting location to begin the competition and perhaps an opportunity to bid adieu to the stepping-stone event La Course, a popular yet at times controversially brief event which came about in 2014 following a petition to ASO calling for a women's Tour de France.

Eight years later, ASO welcomes the women's peloton into the Tour de France for the first time since the former Société du Tour de France held a women's version 33 years ago.

And so along the Champs-Élysées, on July 24, the men's Tour de France will come to a conclusion on stage 21, and the yellow jersey will be symbolically handed to the women's peloton to begin eight varied stages and their long awaited pursuit of the overall title of the Tour de France Femmes.

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of all eight stages of the Tour de France Femmes along with race reports, galleries, results, and exclusive features and news.

Watch our guide to the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift below.

The Tour de France Femmes has the potential to change the landscape of women's professional cycling. ASO has put a strong foot forward in the first edition of the event with 2.5 hours of live broadcasting and a marketing and media package that rivals the best races in the world.

Preview our handy guide for more details on how to watch the Tour de France Femmes.

Organisers are offering a $250,000 prize purse, which is matched only by the Giro d'Italia Donne, and while this is a fraction of the men's prize money, many in the sport believe, to begin with, that the live TV coverage is the most crucial factor in the growth of the event.

The former women's Tour de France of 1984 was held across roughly 1,000km and raced in 18 stages that followed the last section of the men's route, and they would finish two hours before the men at the same finish line. The women also climbed iconic mountains such as l'Alpe d'Huez.

It's a different format this time but many believe that the women's race will benefit from being held the week after the men's Tour de France to give it its own space and visibility.

There are obvious challenges and limitations to how much of countryside the Tour de France Femmes can traverse in eight days so the peloton will remain in the northeast and Vosges this year. However, the route presents something for everyone and a backdrop for what is expected to be a riveting bike race. 

The women will race 1,029 kilometres, including two puncheur stages, a stage packed with gravel sectors, four flatter sprint stages, and back-to-back mountain stages in the Vosges. It will all culminate at the summit of La Super Planche des Belles Filles where the overall winner will be crowned on July 31.

To take a closer look at the route of the Tour de France Femmes 2022 see our definitive guide to the route's key stages.

Something for everyone

Tour de France Femmes has something to offer every type of rider, from the sprinters to the puncheurs and the pure climbers. But when it comes to the overall classification, these are the riders to watch.

Movistar's Annemmiek van Vleuten will be the outright favourite to win the overall title. She arrives fresh off of winning her third Giro d'Italia Donne earlier in July. A former multi-time world champion, she has proven her supremacy on the longest and toughest summits in the sport.

Winner of Paris-Roubaix Femmes and the Women's Tour, Trek-Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini can do it all. The Italian rider can chase stage victories in the mid to high mountains, but her savvy tactics also cement her place among the favourites for the overall. 

Canyon-SRAM's Kasia Niewiadoma is one of the most consistent athletes in the sport, regularly delivering near the top of the results table. A major contender on all terrain, watch for her on the decisive gravel stage, breakaways, and critical mountain stages.

Danish all-rounder Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has spent the last three seasons preparing for a victory at the Tour de France Femmes. She will have full support in her attempt to bring the maillot jaune to the French team FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope. The team will also have a second card to play in Giro Donne runner-up Marta Cavalli.

Demi Vollering, tipped as the next Anna van der Breggen at SD Worx, has the brightest future in professional cycling. A steep learning curve since joining the pro ranks four years ago, she has already won some of the most prestigious races from Liège-Bastogne-Liège and La Course to Itzulia Women. The Vosges are her frequent training ground, and she is an expert on every slope and switchback of the Super Planche des Belles Filles.

The racing won't just be about the GC riders, and fans can expect to see action-packed racing with a bunch sprints as fast women such as Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM), Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx), Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) and Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma). They will also be eyeing the green jersey.

Watch for breakaway specialists Mavi Garcia (UAE Team ADQ), Elise Chabbey (Canyon- SRAM), and Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) to name a few, who may also be in the hunt for the mountains jersey.

All-in-all the eight days of racing will provide world-class competition and the capacity to engage fans through to the summit of La Super Planche des Belles Filles. 

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Kirsten Frattini

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.

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