The route of the third edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was revealed this morning at the Palais des Congrès in Paris by its director, Marion Rousse. With a calendar that differs from previous years, adapting to the organisation of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the peloton of the world's women's cycling elite will gather in Rotterdam for the event's first Grand Départ from abroad on 12 August. After eight stages and a total of 946 kilometres, addressed first to the sprinter-rouleurs, then to the great classic racers and finally to the best climbers, the overall finish will be at the Alpe d'Huez resort on 18 August. In 2023, the Pyrenees and Tourmalet were conquered, and the exploration of high-altitude summits will continue for the women's peloton.
Family stories are about asserting one's filiation and assuming one's independence, which is what the third edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will be about next summer. This time, three weeks will separate the champion's start from the Tour's final finish in Nice. And the women's event will follow in the footsteps of the Grande Boucle, whose first start from abroad was in the Netherlands in 1954, 70 years earlier. It's only natural that the flagship event for women's cycling should respond to the call of Rotterdam, when Dutch riders are omnipresent on the podiums throughout the year. The event begins with a stage to The Hague, where the local sprinters won't be the only ones vying for the first Yellow Jersey of the week. The following day, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will revive another tradition with two half-stages: a 67 km road race in the morning and a short 6.3 km time trial to finish the day after a ride over the Erasmus Bridge and through the heart of the city.
After an initial sequence dedicated to the sprinters-rouleurs, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will take the peloton into another dimension, to the high points of the spring classics, where the punchers will be in the spotlight. The name of stage four, Valkenburg-Liège, is reminiscent of the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On this route, in the form of a nod to the history of cycling, the women riders will take on the Cauberg before battling on the côte de la Redoute and Roche-aux-Faucons. The peloton will keep up the intensity as it enters the French Ardennes to head for Amnéville (stage 4), and the pace will accelerate on the road to Morteau in the Jura mountains (stage 5).
The programme for the final weekend includes a decisive battle in the Alps for the title and podium places. On Saturday, there will be a proper mountain stage in Le Grand-Bornand because, unlike the men, who are used to winning in the valley, the women will have to climb to the top of the Chinaillon ascent to finish the day's 3,100 metres of positive altitude difference. The following day's total will be close to the 4,000-metre mark, to be climbed over a distance of 150 km, once again on the roads of Tour legend: the Col du Glandon, where Romain Bardet began to build his first stage victory in 2015, and above all the famous climb to Alpe d'Huez, whose list of winners was initiated in 1952 by Fausto Coppi before becoming known as the "Mountain of the Dutch". It's a safe bet that the "Oranje" will still have a challenge ahead of them on 18 August.