Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Tour de France Femmes debut marks a ‘before and after’ for peloton

The mystique of the yellow jersey gave the sport the international platform it deserves.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

There will forever be a “before and after” in racing with the successful debut of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift in 2022.

In what was the right race at the right time — some say too late — the reborn Tour de France Femmes delivered all of its promises and more.

The platform and prestige that came with the international recognition of the maillot jaune lended immediate credibility to the race.

Fans showed up in record numbers, the media plugged in, and the backdrop that the collective might that ASO can deliver served up a week of racing that forever changed the cycling landscape.

And the racers and teams did the rest.

“This is just the beginning,” said inaugural winner Annemiek van Vleuten. “I hope it is a big start and we can build this event to be a bigger event for the women. This is a milestone in the sport.”

Also read:

Race owners ASO finally revived the women’s edition of the Tour de France in 2022, and it was a long time coming. Earlier iterations of the race died out decades ago, and efforts to bring it back to life stalled out for one reason or another.

The arrival of Zwift provided the financial muscle that ASO wanted from a long-term partner, and now the race is on sound financial and organizational footing. The COVID outbreak delayed it yet again, and despite recent layoffs at the e-racing platform, officials at Zwift say its financial commitments to such events as Tour de France Femmes remain firmly in place.

It appears that the Tour de France Femmes is back to stay.

Breaking records and setting new milestones

SD Worx’ Demi Vollering and Christine Majerus embrace at the end of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The importance of the successful 2022 debut cannot be underplayed.

“The Tour de France Femmes marks a before and after in women’s racing,” FDJ Suez manager Stephen Delcourt said. “Everyone in the world knows what the yellow jersey is. Now the women can aspire toward the Tour just the same way as the men. It’s so important for riders, teams, and sponsors to have this race as a big focus for the entire peloton.”

Like the men’s edition, which is the gravitational center of the entire racing season, the Tour de France Femmes is quickly emerging to hold a similar central focus for teams and riders.

Other races on the calendar are longer and harder, but it’s the yellow jersey and the prestige of the Tour de France franchise that bring that extra layer of international recognition that will raise the game for everyone across the peloton.

Sponsors and other major media players are paying attention. The numbers in the 2022 inaugural edition confirmed that the race touched the wider public.

Organizers ASO confirmed the average daily viewership across the eight stages was at 2.25 million viewers per day, a share of 26.4 percent. In comparison, the men’s Tour with its 100-year-plus history averages 4 million viewers per day.

Setting the bar even higher

Paris is out, and the Tourmalet is in for 2023. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Expectations are even higher for the 2023 version that will see important new milestones in the race.

Gone are the start in Paris and the gravel stage that some suggested was too gimmicky, and in are a time trial and a mountain stage featuring one of cycling’s most famous climbs at the Col du Tourmalet. The hors-categorie giant will be the keystone of a brutal week of racing.

“We had a few requests from girls to have a time trial, there will be one this year. Because to win a Tour de France, you have to be competent in all areas and the exercise of the time trial is important,” race director Marion Rousse said after the route presentation.

“The idea is to increase the pressure towards the end and keep as much suspense as possible. When you look at the route, the course is almost harder than last year because every day something can happen,” she said. “It’s the dream of all organizers to try to keep the suspense going until the last day. In year two, we drew a few conclusions because we want to keep the suspense going until the end.”

Now the stage is set for thrilling second act.

The eight-stage 2023 route will set off from Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne region and end with the double-whammy of the Tourmalet summit finish and a time trial in Pau.

And just like last year, when the peloton raised its collective game to chase the maillot jaune, it’s the racers and teams that are stars of the show.

There are plenty of plot lines that will supercharge the narratives from here all the way into July.

An American in France

What’s it like to be an American cyclist living in France? Watch to get professional road cyclist Joe Dombrowski’s view.