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The men have a few more kilometres to cover before they end their Tour in Paris, but the women are only now travelling to the start of their upcoming Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.
One of the most anticipated races of the year, or perhaps many years, the Tour de France Femmes will see all of the top riders of the women’s peloton line up in Paris. The fight for yellow will not be the only battle out on the roads of Northern France. Women will also be going all out to claim the iconic green, white, and polka dot jerseys of the most famous race in the world.
The course offers a little something for every type of rider, so you can expect all the top sprinters, climbers and all-rounders to target specific stages or jerseys. It’s going to be a great race. Here are some of our favourites for yellow, stage wins, and more.
We might as well start with the big one. The yellow jersey. The first yellow jersey to be awarded to a woman since 2009 when Emma Pooley won the Grande Boucle Féminine.
Quite a few riders have made this jersey the main target of their 2022 season, but one woman will be hard to beat.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐: Van Vleuten
⭐⭐⭐⭐: Cavalli, Longo Borghini, Vollering
⭐⭐⭐: Faulkner, Niewiadoma, Uttrup Ludwig
⭐⭐: García, Labous
⭐: Moolman Pasio, Rooijakkers
The GC contenders
The climbing heavy stages at the end of the Tour favour a rider who is good at climbing, but there are still some stages leading up to the final two days that could see a gutsy rider find themselves with an advantage. Still, with almost 30 km of climbing on stage 7 and La Super Planche des Belles Filles to wrap up the race, it’s hard to look past the recent Giro Donne winner Annemiek van Vleuten of Movistar.
Van Vleuten remains the best climber in the peloton. Even with a few riders getting closer and closer to her level, she won the Giro Donne by nearly two minutes. Not quite the three minutes and 46 seconds that won her pink in 2019, but still a significant margin.
If Van Vleuten takes the jersey on stage 7 she will be hard to unseat on stage 8, even if the climb isn’t her favoured high mountain pass. What could upset Van Vleuten’s victory is stages 3 and 4 and a move from someone like Kasia Niewiadoma or Elisa Longo Borghini.
Niewiadoma has spent the past few weeks training at altitude and has been eyeing the Tour as her main goal for the season. She will have near total support from her Canyon-SRAM team, with Pauliena Rooijakkers as a potential backup for the final stages should something go wrong. Niewiadoma will be eyeing any of the technical descents on stages 3, 6, 7, and 8. The Polish rider is known for going downhill faster than nearly everyone else in the peloton, save for Jumbo-Visma’s Anna Henderson.
If Niewiadoma doesn’t try to go for a surprise (but not really) move on the final climb of stage 3, trust that Longo Borghini will. The former Italian national champion recently won the Women’s Tour by only one second and continued to build her form at the Giro Donne where she finished fourth overall. Longo Borghini got steadily better and better over the ten days at the Giro and was able to make back a significant amount of time in the general classification on the Queen stage there.
Longo Borghini’s Trek-Segafredo team has a few favourites for stage wins, but she is the sole general classification contender for the American team.
A team that definitely does not have just one contender is FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope. The French team will be under pressure from their team management and sponsors to win something at their home Tour and the main thing standing in their way is themselves. They will start the race with two potential general classification contenders in Marta Cavalli and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig.
Cavalli recently finished second at the Giro and was the only rider able to consistently stick with Van Vleuten on the longer climbs. However, the team has outwardly backed Uttrup Ludwig as their leader for the French race. That was the deal the two made. Uttrup Ludwig would support Cavalli at the Giro, and in return, Cavalli will need to support Uttrup Ludwig in France.
The problem is, Cavalli might be a better option. Uttrup Ludwig, while a talented rider, hasn’t raced much this season. The Danish national champion sat out a good six weeks of racing after the Tour of Flanders thanks to COVID-19. When she returned she landed straight on the podium at Durango-Durango in Spain but in her absence, Cavalli stepped it up and won two WorldTour one-days.
Now, the two-leader approach of FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope isn’t looking like the best way to win a bike race, but who knows. Perhaps Uttrup Ludwig will be climbing with the best in France.
Another team with two riders who both hope to end the race in yellow is SD Worx. Demi Vollering sat out the Giro Donne, where she finished second in 2021, to prepare for the Tour. Her teammate Ashleigh Moolman Pasio did the same leaving the dominant Dutch team with few options in terms of top GC potential in Italy. Now, they will both be hunting yellow, but it seems like the team is keen to throw their weight behind Vollering instead of Moolman Pasio.
Last season Vollering proved she could climb with the best, but climbing hasn’t been her strongest asset in 2022. She still won all three stages and the overall of the Itzulia Women in May, while Moolman Pasio has not secured a victory since stage 9 of the Giro Donne last season. Moolman Pasio was SD Worx team leader at the Women’s Tour but finished the race fifth overall. That being said, with the climbing on stages 7 and 8, Moolman Pasio could be the stronger option for her Dutch team.
Team DSM has one potential option for the general classification. Juliette Labous, who won the Vuelta a Burgos in May after finishing second behind Vollering on the final mountain top, also won the only mountain top finish at the Giro Donne. The Frenchwoman may not be a four-star favourite, but she’s still one to keep an eye on.
Up-and-coming American talent Kristen Faulkner is definitely someone to watch out for. She won two very different stages of the Giro Donne with two vastly different efforts. First, she won the opening time trial (or prologue depending on who you ask) then she won the penultimate stage, the stage with the most amount of elevation gain, and secured the polka dot jersey in the process. She nearly won the Tour de Suisse but crashed on the final corner and lost the lead to Trek-Segafredo’s Lucinda Brand.
Faulkner is quickly becoming a top rider in the women’s peloton and because of this Team BikeExchange-Jayco has named her sole leader for the general classification. Unfortunately their other option Amanda Spratt was forced to leave the Giro Donne with COVID-19.
A final potential yellow jersey winner is Mavi García of UAE Team ADQ. The Spanish national champion finished the Giro Donne third overall after a strong ride on stage 4 but fell apart in the high mountains at the end of the race. The Tour is two days shorter, which might favour García.
It will be interesting to see how the riders who rode the Giro, like Van Vleuten, Cavalli, Uttrup Ludwig, Faulker, and Labous will do compared to those who focused on training in the buildup to the Tour like Niewiadoma, Vollering and Moolman Pasio.
While all the above riders are favourites for the yellow jersey at the end of the eight-stage race, it’s likely the race lead will change hands quite a few times before it settles on one set of shoulders. The first two stages favour sprinters, the third and fourth someone with nothing to lose, and who knows what could happen before the race hits the mountains on Saturday.
The green jersey
With four potential sprint finishes and a bunch of points up for grabs on each stage, the green jersey competition is going to be fierce. Two riders, in particular, will be gunning for the iconic points jersey, but there are some other hopefuls who will not miss an opportunity to throw themselves in there.
The main battle will be between Jumbo-Visma’s Marianne Vos and Lorena Wiebes of Team DSM. Both Dutch superstars, both with a whole lot of wins to their names. Wiebes has made herself known as the best sprinter in the women’s peloton, winning fourteen sprint finishes in 2022 alone, including all three stages of RideLondon. Vos is Vos. The G.O.A.T. She will be Jumbo-Visma’s main chance at a result over the eight days of racing. Vos won the inaugural La Course by the Tour de France on the Champs Elysées in 2014, so she knows that course like the back of her hand, and she knows how to win. Plus, she can take pointers from her Jumbo-Visma teammate Wout van Aert and try to get some of the mid-stage points as well. Her team doesn’t have a GC hopeful, they will be all in for stage wins.
But in the words of Amy Jones on the Freewheeling podcast; “just give Wiebes that first yellow jersey now.”
Next to Vos and Wiebes, there are two Italian women who are getting faster and faster every day. The first is the world champion, Elisa Balsamo. Balsamo won two stages of the Giro Donne, but also took home top honours at a few early-season classics like Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne and Gent-Wevelgem. Her Trek-Segafredo team can definitely deliver her to the line in prime position, something a lot of other teams haven’t quite nailed.
Then we have Chiara Consonni. The Italian won the final stage of the Giro Donne and has sprinted to victory a few times this season. Getting Consonni stage wins or green jersey points will be the main focus for Valcar-Travel & Service throughout the Tour.
Rachele Barbieri of Liv Racing Xstra, Team BikeExchange-Jayco’s Ruby Roseman-Gannon, and Marta Bastianelli of UAE Team ADQ are all capable sprinters who we could see in the mix. Bastianelli is aggressive enough to scoop up some points throughout the stages too.
But at the end of the race, it will most likely be a Vos vs. Wiebes duel for green.
The stage hunters
A good number of teams are riding into the race without any general classification contenders. Their full focus will be on stage wins, which is great for the viewers back home.
Apart from Vos, Jumbo-Visma has Anna Henderson who could mix it up a bit, as well as Riejanne Markus. The two are aggressive riders who could find themselves in some successful breakaways, especially on stages 5 and 6.
Ef Education-Tibco-SVB has a really good shot at a stage with newcomer to the peloton Veronica Ewers. The American won Navarra Women’s Classics after finishing second the day before in Emakumeen Nafarroak to Sarah Gigante. She also won the second stage of the Ceratizit Festival Elsy Jacobs with a brave solo move.
Team SD Worx is stacked with potential stage winners. Lotte Kopecky, who wouldn’t really be classified as a sprinter, is a favourite for the gravel on stage 4 after her impressive win at Strade Bianche earlier this year. And if she can slip away, Marlen Reusser has the power to hold off a chasing peloton.
The same goes for Trek-Segafredo with Audrey Cordon-Ragot, who will be especially motivated in her new French national champ’s jersey, and Ellen van Dijk.
Lizzie Holden of Le Col-Wahoo has been going from strength to strength all season, and could definitely be up there on a few stages.
There are a lot of teams who will be under pressure to get some results out of the Tour. Teams who moved up to WorldTour or formed simply because of the Tour de France Femmes. Uno-X, Cofidis, Arkéa, UAE Team ADQ, Roland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad, and Human Powered Health, for example. All of these teams will be hunting for results, and some of them are going into the race empty handed.
There will be a lot on the line for a lot of riders, and a lot of riders dreaming of success in France. It will make for some exciting racing, and some great viewing for us at home.
Who is your pick for the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift? And which other riders are you most looking forward to watching?