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Tour de France Femmes 2023 preview

Tuesday 18 July 2023 • Blog

Stef van Zon

The excitement is rising and expectations are high for the highly anticipated Tour de France Femmes 2023. This prestigious race promises to be a spectacle, where 154 cyclists, divided into 22 teams, will take on the challenge on an impressive course that winds its way through various regions and departments in France. This year, the best female cyclists in the world come together to compete for the coveted title.

With the second edition of the Tour de France Femmes just around the corner, it is clear that this race marks a milestone in the evolution of women's cycling. The growing popularity and recognition of women's cycling have resulted in increased competition and professionalization of the sport. This edition promises an exceptional and challenging course, where the skills of the riders will be pushed to the limit.

Course 

Over the course of eight days, the riders will face a total distance of 956 kilometers, spread across various stages with diverse terrains and altitude differences. From flat sprint stages to hilly challenges and a mountain-top finish, the riders will have to utilize their climbing abilities, strength, and perseverance to secure victory.

The course of the Tour de France Femmes 2023 takes us through the breathtaking landscapes of three regions - Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and Occitanie - and crosses 11 departments. With each stage, the course presents new obstacles and opportunities, promising to be an unforgettable experience for both the riders and the spectators. For a detailed blog about the course, click here.

Top Sprinters 

The focus of the Tour de France Femmes lies in the final stages, so in the first six stages, there are multiple opportunities for the fast women in this Tour.

Head-to-head Sprinters

It should come as no surprise that Lorena Wiebes from Team SD Worx is the absolute favorite when it comes to sprinting. Elisa Balsamo from Lidl-Trek will likely make her appearance after her crash in the RideLondon Classique. It remains to be seen if she can compete for victory again. The biggest challenger will likely be Charlotte Kool from Team DSM - Firmenich, who won the first 4 stages in the Baloise Ladies Tour but had to withdraw after stage 5 due to illness. Hopefully, she will come to France in good health to compete for victories. Lastly, Marianne Vos from Team Jumbo-Visma is included in the head-to-head. Last year, she wore the yellow jersey, and this year, she will be determined to secure a stage win in this tour. In almost all multi-day races she participates in, she manages to take a victory. Almost, because in this year's Giro d'Italia Donne, she only managed two second places. Hopefully, she can compete for victories again in this tour.

Outsiders in the Sprint

In addition to the top sprinters, there are also several riders who can certainly compete for victories. UAE Team ADQ is represented by Chiara Consonni, who won the final stage of the Giro d'Italia Donne. Alongside Lorena, Team SD Worx also has Lotte Kopecky, who can also mix it up in the more challenging sprints or win from a group attack. Furthermore, Rachele Barbieri (Liv Racing TeqFind), Tamara Dronova (Israel-Premier Tech Roland), and Emma Norsgaard (Movistar Team) will be participating in the sprints.

Time Trial

The final stage is an individual time trial covering 22 kilometers. In this stage, the overall contenders will compete against each other for positions in the general classification, but there will also be specialists who can vie for stage victory alongside the top riders contending for the overall classification.

Head-to-head Tijdrijden

Marlen Reusser from Team SD Worx has been in excellent form throughout the year, winning multiple races with long solo attacks. She is the top favorite for stage 8 in Pau, especially since Ellen van Dijk is absent due to her pregnancy. Her challenger for the stage win will likely be Grace Brown from FDJ-SUEZ, who has already won several time trials this year. Riejanne Markus from Team Jumbo-Visma has also made good progress in time trials and became the Dutch champion ahead of Annemiek and Demi. It remains to be seen if she will also focus on a placement in the general classification, which will require additional energy.

Favorites for General Classification

The main question beforehand is whether Annemiek van Vleuten can win the Tour de France Femmes one more time in her final year, or if Demi Vollering has made such significant progress that she will claim the top spot on the podium this year.

Head-to-head Annemiek vs Demi

In the races during the spring season, Annemiek van Vleuten was not at her best. She wasn't really in contention for the victory, and her best results were top 10 finishes.

This year, Demi Vollering proved to be the stronger climber in La Vuelta Femenina, frequently putting Annemiek van Vleuten at a disadvantage. However, due to an ill-timed bathroom break, Demi lost the overall victory by 9 seconds.

In other races and stages, Demi often performed exceptionally well and even helped her teammates secure victories, such as Marlen Reusser in the Itzulia Women and Tour de Suisse Women. This will likely translate into a valuable support role for Demi in this Tour.

In the Giro d'Italia Donne, Annemiek van Vleuten returned to her best form and won the pink jersey with a comfortable lead over her competitors. However, Demi Vollering chose not to participate in that race and instead focused on recharging for the Tour de France Femmes. The battle between these two riders for the victory will be exciting to watch.

Outsiders for the general classification

In addition to Annemiek and Demi, there are several other outsiders who could contend for a podium spot or even the overall victory. Juliette Labous from Team DSM - Firmenich finished second behind Annemiek in this year's Giro d'Italia Donne, demonstrating her good form. FDJ-SUEZ brings three strong contenders, although they are considered outsiders since Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig and Evita Muzic are not particularly strong in time trials, and Marta Cavalli is still recovering from the horrific crash in last year's Tour de France Femmes. Ashleigh Moolman had initially planned to retire after last year's disappointment in the Tour de France Femmes, but she has returned this year as part of AG Insurance-Soudal Quick-Step Team and has even extended her career by another year, so her motivation is undoubtedly high. CANYON//SRAM Racing brings a number of strong riders, with Katarzyna Niewiadoma being the key candidate, having finished third in this race last year. Lidl-Trek is here with two strong riders Elisa Longo Borghini and Amanda Spratt. The last rider we want to mention is Veronica Ewers, who achieved a top 10 finish in this race last year and showcased her good form with a fourth-place result in the Giro d'Italia Donne.

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