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Our Guide to the 2023 Tour de France Femmes

The second edition of Tour de France Femmes starts on the final day of the men's Tour de France, and it will be LOADED with exciting racing. Our guide will get you ready to follow all the action by explaining how it all works and the top contenders.

Written by: Bruce Lin

Published on:

Posted in:Features

Photos: A.S.O.

The creators of the Tour de France have created the perfect solution to post-Tour withdrawals and the egregious lack of pro women’s stage racing. It's called the Tour de France Femmes!

Tour de France Femmes is in only its second year, but it’s already one of the most exciting races on the calendar. It has also brought women’s cycling to a broader audience, and while we are still a ways away from true equality, it’s a sign of the amazing strides women’s professional cycling has made in recent years. 

This year, Tour de France Femmes will once again serve up 8 dynamic stages of racing with plenty of excitement and intrigue. Here’s your guide to follow along.

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Tour de France Femmes Explained: Infographic

Tour de France Femmes Guide

What Is the Tour de France Femmes?

  • The Tour de France Femmes is the current women’s version of the legendary Tour de France
  • It began in 2022 and is organized by the same people behind the Tour de France.
  • The race will consist of 8 stages that cover 956 km / 594 mi. 
  • The route is all new for 2023 and was designed to challenge the women’s peloton in new ways. 

How Does the Tour de France Femmes Work?

Tour de France Femmes guide jerseysThe Tour de France Femmes essentially works the same way as the men’s Tour de France. The race is split into 8 stages and each stage has an individual winner — the rider who crosses the finish line first. There’s also an overall winner — the rider with the fastest combined time from all 8 stages. But there are also multiple ways to “win” for riders not contending for the overall win. 

General Classification - Yellow Jersey

Annemiek van Vleuten tour de france femmesThe overall winner of the Tour de France Femmes is the rider who has the fastest time after all 8 stages. Every stage is timed from start to finish, and every second counts toward the race's General Classification (GC). Every day, the current leader of the race will wear the yellow jersey so they are easy to spot. The rider with the lowest overall time after the last stage is the winner. 

Last year’s winner: Annemiek van Vleuten

Points Classification - Green Jersey

Tour de france femmes green jerseyAlso known as the sprinter’s jersey, this award goes to the rider who scores the most points throughout the race. Winning a stage earns the most points, but riders can earn points by finishing in the top-15 in a stage. This favors “pure” sprinters (riders who don't compete on mountain stages). Riders can also earn points in mid-stage sprints that are usually stationed in towns to please the fans.

Last year’s winner: Marianne Vos

Mountains Classification - Polka-Dot Jersey

Demi Vollering Tour de France FemmesThe polka-dot “Queen of the Mountains” jersey goes to the rider who collects the most points over the course of the race by reaching the summit of categorized climbs first. Riders get more points on harder climbs. Riders also get more points by winning stages with mountain top finishes.

Last year’s winner: Demi Vollering

Young Rider Classification - White Jersey

Tour de France Femmes Shirin van AnrooijThis classification works the same way as the yellow jersey but is awarded to the highest-placed rider under 23 years of age. This is slightly different from the men’s version, which is awarded to the highest-placed rider under 26 years of age. 

Last year’s winner: Shirin van Anrooij

Team Classification - Yellow Helmets

Tour de France Femmes guide canyon sramThe team with the lowest overall time wins this prize. The finish times of the three best riders on each team are counted, and the team leading this classification usually wears yellow helmets, helping them stand out in the bunch.

Last year’s winner: Canyon–SRAM

Combativity Award - Red Number

Also known as the “Most Aggressive Rider” award. A jury decides which rider in the race was most aggressive — usually, that means attacking a lot or gambling on a breakaway. The rider with a red number on their jersey was named most aggressive the stage prior. At the end of the Tour, one rider gets the Super Combativity award.

Last year’s winner: Marianne Vos 

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The 2023 Tour de France Femmes Course

Tour de France Femmes course routeJust like the 2022 edition, the first stage of the 2023 Tour de France Femmes begins on the same day as the last stage of the men’s Tour de France. This is great news for racing fans since it means there will be no gap in Tour de France action. 

However, instead of starting on the Champs-Élysées like last year, the 2023 Tour de France Femmes will start in Clermont Ferrand. This may be a good thing because the race will still be connected to the men’s race, but it won't be constrained by it. Moving the start away from Paris has allowed Race Director Marion Rousse to create a more varied, challenging, and exciting route that visits new areas of France. 

Col du Tourmalet Tour de FranceThe queen stage will be stage 7, which features a summit finish on the legendary Col du Tourmalet. It’s a big deal for the Tour de France Femmes to feature a climb as iconic and challenging as the Tourmalet in only its second edition. At over 2,000 meters, this will be the highest finish of the 2023 Tour and it should be the stage that decides the overall winner. 

Another big addition is a final time trial for stage 8. The first edition lacked a time trial. Now that one has been added, the Tour de France Femmes is a truer reflection of the men’s version, where time trial ability can determine overall victory. This final time trial is fairly short (22km) so it shouldn’t have a huge effect on the final outcome, but it will give TT specialists an opportunity to win a stage. 

Who Will Win the 2023 Tour de France Femmes?

Annemiek van Vleuten

Annemiek van Vleuten Tour de France FemmesIt’d be pretty silly for anyone to bet against last year’s Tour de France Femmes winner, Annemiek van Vleuten. Among her insanely long list of wins, she’s also a two-time road race and time trial world champion, an Olympic gold medal winner, and a 4-time winner of the Giro Donne (the women’s version of the Giro d’Italia). She’s the best climber in the women’s peloton, and she’s expected to dominate the Tourmalet on stage 7. 

Demi Vollering

Demi Vollering Tour de France FemmesDemi Vollering was the closest to van Vleuten on the tough climbs in last year’s Tour de France Femmes. She’s younger and perhaps hungrier than van Vleuten. After getting blown out by van Vlueten last year, she’s been training hard and even skipped the Giro Donne this year to fully focus on the Tour de France Femmes. If anyone has a chance at taking down the mighty van Vleuten, it’s Vollering. 

Other Tour de France Femmes Contenders

It’s basically Annemiek van Vleuten vs. everyone else. But there are plenty of other fast women who can throw a wrench into the works. If anything, they can definitely challenge for the podium and stage wins:

  • Silvia Persico (last year’s 3rd-place finisher)
  • Kasia Niewiadoma
  • Juliette Labous
  • Elisa Longo Borghini 
  • Veronica Ewers

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Why Did It Take So Long To Get a Women’s Tour de France?

Tour de France Femmes guideThere have been many attempts in the past to establish a women’s equivalent to the Tour de France. Women’s versions of the Tour de France for women have been held under different names between 1984 and 2009, but these races struggled with financial difficulties, limited media coverage, and trademark issues with the organizers of the men’s Tour de France. 

More recently, the organizers of the men’s Tour de France responded to campaigns from Le Tour Entier, an activist group to improve women's racing, as well as general criticism from fans, by creating “La Course by Le Tour de France.” La Course was held between 2014 and 2021, but since it was only a one-day (sometimes two-day) race, it paled in comparison to the men’s version. 

Finally, a true stage race was created. The Tour de France Femmes had its first edition in 2022. Thanks to the prestige of the Tour de France, the Tour de France Femmes is already one of the biggest races on the women’s pro cycling calendar. Teams and media have referred to it as a women’s “Grand Tour,” but since it’s only 8 stages long (versus the men's Tour’s 21 stages), it doesn’t actually meet the UCI definition of such an event. However, as it grows and matures over the years, we may see the women finally get a real Grand Tour equivalent. 

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