The route of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, whose second edition will take place from 23 to 30 July, has been presented at the Palais des Congrès in Paris by Marion Rousse. "Even higher", says the event director, who detailed the programme of the eight stages, totalling a distance of 956 kilometres, and which will pose new difficulties to the champions. The handover concept with the Tour will continue, but this time the riders will meet in Clermont-Ferrand to start the exploration of the Massif Central range. At the end of the week, the Pyrenees will begin the weeding out process among the most efficient climbers: the finish line of the col du Tourmalet will be the goal of all the contenders for the Yellow Jersey. They will have to defend their ambitions again the following day in the final time trial in Pau.

Discover the 2023 route

A giant step forward each year. After the inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, which saw the peloton set off from the Champs-Élysées to complete its route over the hills of Eastern France, crossing the Ballon d'Alsace as the 1905 pioneers did. The race will now head for the Massif Central and then the Pyrenees to offer new challenges to the female riders. By gathering the peloton in Clermont-Ferrand, the link remains between the women's race and the Tour's history. They won't climb the Puy de Dôme this time. But they will experience the roughness of the Auvergne geology from the very first days. Perhaps not so much on the first stage, which might not see the peloton dispersed; then in a more marked way on the road to Mauriac, where they will have to deal with a positive altitude change of 2,500 meters before fighting for the stage win.

The sprinters will most likely take centre stage in Montignac, where the Lascaux caves are situated. But they will probably be more in the wings on the longest stage of the week (177 km), where the Aveyron ascents will work in favour of the most resilient riders of a breakaway or the strongest punchers for the finish in Rodez. The thin air of the Pyrenees will begin to take its toll on the Albi and Blagnac stages, but it will be on the weekend that the Yellow Jersey candidates will battle for the first time in the high mountains. The legendary Col du Tourmalet, where the Tour riders had their first taste of altitude in 1910, at 2,115 metres, will again be the place to be. The finish line of stage seven has been set five metres lower, in a setting where only the best female climbers in the world can hope to win. Whoever manages to do so will probably be among the contenders for the final time trial, which will take place around Pau, but partly in the opposite direction, on the same course where Julian Alaphilippe defended his Yellow Jersey in 2019.