From Rotterdam To Alpe d’Huez

The route of the third edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift was revealed this morning at the Palais des Congrès in Paris by its director, Marion Rousse. With a calendar that differs from previous years, adapting to fit with the organisation of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the peloton of the world’s female cycling elite will gather on 12th August in Rotterdam for the event’s first Grand Départ from outside of France.

With eight stages covering a total of 946 kilometres, tailored first to the sprinter-rouleurs, then to the great classic racers and finally to the best climbers, the overall finish will be at the world-renowned Alpe d’Huez resort on 18th August. In 2023, the Pyrenees and Tourmalet were conquered. This exploration of high-altitude summits will continue for the women’s peloton.

The women’s event will follow in the footsteps of the Grande Boucle, whose first start from abroad was in the Netherlands in 1954, 70 years previously. It seems only natural that the flagship event for women’s cycling should respond to the call of Rotterdam, when Dutch riders are omnipresent on the podiums throughout the year. The event begins with a stage to The Hague, where the local sprinters won’t be the only ones vying for the first Yellow Jersey of the week. The following day, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will revive another tradition with two half-stages: a 67 km road race in the morning and a short 6.3 km time trial to finish the day with a ride over the Erasmus Bridge and through the heart of the city.

After an initial sequence dedicated to the sprinters-rouleurs, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will take the peloton into another dimension, to the high points of the spring classics, where the puncheurs will be in the spotlight. The Valkenburg-Liège stage is reminiscent of the Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. On this day, as a nod to the history of cycling, the riders will take on the Cauberg, before battling on the côte de la Redoute and Roche-aux-Faucons. The peloton will keep up the intensity as it enters the French Ardennes to head for Amnéville (stage 4), and the pace will no doubt accelerate on the road to Morteau in the Jura mountains (stage 5).

The programme for the final weekend includes a decisive battle in the Alps for the title and podium places. On Saturday, there will be a proper mountain stage in Le Grand-Bornand where the women will have to climb to the top of the Chinaillon ascent to finish the day’s 3,100 metres of positive altitude difference. The following day’s total will be close to the 4,000-metre mark, to be climbed over a distance of 150 km, once again on the roads of a Tour legend – the Col du Glandon – where Romain Barnet began to build his first stage victory in 2015. The race will climax on the famous climb to Alpe d’Huez, whose list of winners began with Fausto Coppi before the climb became known as the “Mountain of the Dutch”. It’s a safe bet that the “Oranje” will still have a challenge ahead of them on 18th August! Whoever triumphs at the summit of Alpe d’Huez, the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift 2024 promises to be another important milestone in the history of women’s cycling.

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