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Tour de France Femmes 2022 - Stage 3 preview

Stage 3: Reims - Épernay

Date: July 26, 2022

Distance: 133.6km

Stage timing: 12:50 - 16:15 CEST

Stage type: Hilly

The stage to Épernay is one that many of the puncheurs have been looking forward to since the route of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was announced last year, with climbs that are perfect to launch an attack from coming regularly through the day. 

The start of the 133.6km stage from Reims is by no means flat but the first of the four categorised climbs comes at 21.6km in, the Côte de Trépail (1km at 5%). Then there is a short ascent of the Côte de versus (700 metres at 7%) after 79.9km and only about ten kilometres later it is then the Côte du Mesnil-sur-Oger (900 metres at 6.7%).

The race then gets a look at what will soon become the finish line, followed by one intermediate sprint at 112.6km. After that the peloton heads toward the hardest climb of the day, the category three Côte de Mutigny located at 117.8km. It is only 900 metres but with an average gradient of 12% and pitches as steep as 15%. It’s position less than 20km from the finish line makes it a prime launching point, not only for those looking to take a stage but also for the GC contenders looking to take big chunks of time on their rivals. After the Côte de Mutigny comes Mont Bernon (1km at 4.6%), cresting within 4km of the stage finish to set up a short descent before the slow rise to the final line. 

Riders who thrive on the short climbs and revel in a break like Grace Brown (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) and Ruby Roseman-Gannon (BikeExchange-Jayco) are prime candidates for stage 3, and both their teams could so with a pick me up after suffering a heavy toll from crashes and GC time losses on stage 2. Sprinters like Lorena Wiebes are likely to be out the back but you wouldn't rule out Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), a fierce competitor under any circumstances, but with the yellow jersey on her back the motivation to fight at the front and hold on through the climbs, no matter how fiercely they are raced, will be higher than ever.

Though of course the yellow jersey will provide motivation for plenty of other riders as well, from those who would like to grasp it just for a day to those who want to carry it right through to the end. The GC gaps have opened early after the stage 2 break that included Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM) and Elisa Longo Borghini (Trek-Segafredo), splits in the field and crashes as well. That means with the likes of Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) and Demi Vollering (SD Worx) caught on the back foot, and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope) and Kristen Faulkner (BikeExchange-Jayco) trying to pull back time after crashes, the overall challenge could well come into play.

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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.

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