Tour de France Femmes stage 8: Yellow to be crowned with flat, fast time trial

An all out TT effort to conclude the 2023 Tour de France Femmes.

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Stage 8 — Sunday, July 30
Pau – Pau
Distance: 22.6 km (14 miles)
Profile: Individual time trial

Stage 8: One final big effort to decide the overall

Unlike last year, when a second mountain stage was tagged on at the end, this year’s Tour de France Femmes ends with an individual time trial.

This wouldn’t normally be a problem for Annemiek van Vleuten, a two-time world TT champ, but Demi Vollering’s distancing of her on the Col du Tourmalet has surely put the overall title beyond her. Instead trying for a stage win and second overall will be her motivations, but others too will fight for the same goals.

The course is similar to the one at the 2019 men’s Tour when Julian Alaphilippe scored a surprise stage victory; but the women’s TT takes a counterclockwise rather than clockwise direction and has two fewer hills.

Stage favorites: Two separate battles could well play out

The ones that remain are the midpoint climb to Bosdarros (1.8 kilometers at 5.5 percent) and the uphill sprint to the finish in Pau (400 meters at 5.7 percent).

Race organisers ASO might have hoped for a tighter battle for the yellow jersey, but chances are that the only changes will be a shuffling of the top five contenders and perhaps a rearranged podium.

Both Van Vleuten and Vollering have the power to take a win in this decisive TT, but it is Marlen Reusser (SD Worx) that is the overwhelming favorite for the stage victory.

Marlen Reusser at the start of stage 1
Marlen Reusser at the start of stage 1 of the 2023 Tour de Suisse. She is favorite for the final TT. (Photo: Dario Belingheri/Getty Images)

The Gateway to the Pyrénées beckons

Pau lies 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean and 50 km (31 miles) from the border with Spain. It offers a striking view of the Pyrénées and, according to the French author, poet and statesman, Alphonse de Lamartine, “has the world’s most beautiful view of the earth, just as Naples has the most beautiful view of the sea.”

Known as ‘the gateway to the Pyrénées,’ its location has helped cement a rich history in the Tour de France. This year marks the 74th time it has been a stage town in the men’s Tour. It has also featured in ASO’s women’ races.

In 2019, La Course by le Tour was held on the men’s time trial circuit, a course which should have similar characteristics to the one ending this year’s Tour de France Femmes. Marianne Vos triumphed on that occasion.

The women’s international Grande boucle has also stopped off in Pau on three occasions. Last year, American Kristabel Doebel-Hicock (EF Education-TIBCO-SVB) triumphed there at the Tour International des Pyrénées.

Pau’s surroundings offer many different types of courses, something that is reflected by the diverse qualities of past stage winners in the men’s Tour. These include climbers such as René Vietto and Fausto Coppi, breakaway specialists like Pierrick Fedrigo and sprinters Sean Kelly, Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen.

More recently, stage starts from Pau have seen victories at Laruns and Luz-Ardiden respectively by Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) in 2020 and 2021. The Slovenian went on to win both Tours.

2020 and 2023 aside, Laruns has featured on just two other occasions as a stage town. Primož Roglič won in 2018, while Régis Simon triumphed in 1985.

Culture and food

Pau’s size and history ensures a rich culture, with annual celebrations including the Carnaval Biarnès in February which, with nearly 50,000 participants, is one of the five largest carnivals in mainland France. The city also offers the Festival des Danses Plurielles dance festival in March, Rendez-vous aux Jardins in June, which highlights parks and gardens and Festival des Arts de la Rue street festival in August.

Laruns’ celebrations the Nousté Damo de Laruntz traditional festival in August and a large cheese fair in October. The latter sees the villagers clad in traditional clothes and reviving old traditions, and highlights various speciality cheeses, including a goat milk variety named Laruns and one called Ossau.

Foodwise, Pau is known for garbure, a cabbage stew with many pieces of vegetables. It was originally the daily food of the Gascon peasants and has evolved over the years to include the leg of duck or goose confit. Also popular are foie gras, coucougnettes du Vert Galant (roasted almonds coated with dark chocolate and raspberry marzipan) and Verdier chocolates.


Start time (14.30 CET, 8.30 a.m. EST, 5.30 a.m. WST), estimated finishing time (17.30 CET, 11.30 a.m. EST, 8.30 a.m. WST)

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