This coming weekend, Team EF Education-TIBCO-SVB will begin eight of the biggest racing days in their calendar with the second annual Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift. The 8-stage race kicks off in Clermont-Ferrand on Sunday with a 124km course, also finishing in Clermont-Ferrand. The final stage takes the riders to Pau for an individual time trial the following Sunday July 30th. The race will require untold amounts of strength, aggression, and determination from every rider in the peloton.
The seven selected team riders are going into the prestigious event well prepared. Those riders are Veronica Ewers, Kathrin Hammes, Sara Poidevin, Georgia Williams, Alison Jackson, Letizia Borghesi, and Magdeleine Vallieres.
“The Tour de France Femmes roster brings back five riders from the Giro d’Italia Donne and adds Alison Jackson and Sara Poidevin,” says Linda Jackson, team founder and owner. “The team really gelled at the Giro and gained a lot of confidence. I believe that they will carry forward this cohesiveness into the Tour de France Femmes and we’ll continue to see a lot of pink at the front.”
In last year’s edition of the Tour de France Femmes, the team fought tooth and nail in support of Veronica, who placed an impressive ninth on the general classification. This year, the American climber has shown she is racing strongly with not only three top-ten results at the recent Giro, but also a fourth place overall.
“Veronica has shown she is one of the best climbers in the world. I’d love to see her be aggressive and go for it on the hilly stages. She’s still a very new rider and has a lot of time to develop into a potential Tour winner. Going for stages will take the pressure off of her for the general classification and will let her take more chances versus following riders,” Jackson says.
“Overall I’d like to see the team continue to build on their success at the Giro,” she continues. “Their results there helped to build their confidence and I think we’ll see another step up at the Tour de France Femmes. I’d like to see them continue to be aggressive and visible and riding up to the potential I know they have.”
The Team’s Tour de France Femmes line up:
“I’m really, really excited to race the Tour, because of my performance last year at the Tour de France Femmes. The whole year has been leading up to this race, which has been exciting, stressful, anxiety-producing. My role on the team will be the GC leader and that does come with a bit of pressure, but I think after the Giro I’ve gained confidence going into the Tour and also having the Giro under the legs was really good training leading into the Tour. I’m really excited that the Tour team is really similar to the Giro team. We did really well working together and I think we will continue to work really well together going into the Tour.
I’m definitely proud to race the Tour de France Femmes again. I’m aiming to better my result from last year, but I know that it will be a massive team effort to do that. I think it will be a really good challenge for the team to obtain that goal but I also think that we’ve grown a lot within the team and are a force within the peloton at this time. I think we do have a bit of the underdog personality as a team. Maybe not as much as other teams, but we’re not known as the team to beat, or will have all eyes on us so I think we can play that to our strengths and really take advantage of that and continue taking risks and being aggressive like we were at the Giro so I’m really excited for that.
That said, the Tour stages are pretty intense. A bit longer than those in the Giro and quite relentless, so the entire race itself will be quite attritional, just getting to the individual time trial on stage 8 will be a huge accomplishment, especially after the Tourmalet on the previous day. I think so much of the race will be how much each individual recovers between the stages because of how relentless they will be. That’s a bit nerve-wracking, but I do feel really fortunate to be on a team that can laugh and have some fun at the dinner table. They help me be present in the moment and have some fun, while also managing a lot of the pressure and, for me, a lot of the pressure comes from myself. But given that the Tour de France is my focus for the year, the pressure is necessary and I will be using it as motivation and determination to do 110 percent of what I can do and I am confident my teammates will do the same. I’m really excited for it.”
“I’m really, really happy to be selected for the Tour de France Femmes. It’s always a big honour to be selected for this race. We have a strong team so making the selection for big races is always very special.
I’m super excited to race my second Tour de France. Last year was a really great experience because it was the first Tour de France in more than 30 years. The crowds were crazy. By the end, we all had this huge sense of woman power. It was really incredible. I’m excited to see how it will be this year and if there will be as many crowds.
We have a really strong squad for this year. I think with how we raced at the Giro and how Veronica ended up in fourth on GC, I think we can do really great things. It’s really exciting. I prepared for the Tour by doing the Giro and before that an altitude camp. I think it was the best prep because then you’re already in the routine and in race mode. I’m super happy.”
“I did the Tour de France Femmes last year and I expected it to be a really big event again. Being next to the men’s Tour de France gives it a lot of momentum, a lot of media interest and also public interest. Last year, I already expected the race to be big, but it was even bigger than I expected so that’s why I’m really excited to be part of the team again. I’m also happy and proud to be selected again, because I feel like it’s a big trust that the team has in me. At the same time it comes with pressure, because I want to be at my best and do the best job I can do for the team.
I’m really excited to race with this roster, this team that we have, because everyone has shown really good form, like Veronica at the Giro. We have really good cards. I’m also thinking about the sprint stages with Alison who has won Paris-Roubaix so I think we have a really strong and versatile roster for this race. We have multiple cards to play. Of course it will be a super hard race. Even from the Giro, there’s a big difference with the Tour where we’ll start with seven riders this year, which makes the peloton bigger. That brings a lot more depth because it’s a bigger peloton but also a really strong peloton. But I think as a team we are prepared and ready for it and looking forward to it.”
“I’m very excited and proud to be racing on the Tour team. I think we’ve got a really good squad. It’s going to be super hard racing. My prep has gone pretty well and I’ve recovered pretty well from the Giro. We did some recon for the Tour with Magdeleine, Veronica, and I a few months ago, which was really good. It’s always good to have a bit of extra knowledge on the course; it can only help us. We will bring in a lot of confidence from the Giro. We were riding so well together there and I think we can build on that even more. I’m looking forward to some good, hard racing. The time trial might be a little bit of an opportunity for me. I’d like to have a bit of a go there. My family are coming from New Zealand to watch the last three stages. They have never watched me race in Europe before, so that’s pretty huge and super cool.”
“The Tour de France Femmes is an opportunity to race against riders who are peaking for this week and so it means a hard fight. For sure racing the Tour is always hugely satisfying. I’m arriving at this Tour de France with good feelings and good confidence after a really positive Giro for me and the team. I hope to be able to do a really good performance.
In this Tour, I hope to have a lot of satisfaction both personally and as a team. Personally, I want to be able to always give my maximum and to have a good performance and then I can finish the eight stages with a big smile on my face. And for the team, we have a really strong team, a lot of riders that can aim for a top result in the stages.
I’m looking forward to every stage at this Tour de France. It’s difficult to choose a stage, but I think that I’m really looking forward to the hillier stages that suit me the most. I am also really curious to ride the really long stage of 177 kilometres, where I hope that I can show my good endurance. But I am in general looking forward to every stage of this Tour de France. It will be a really hard race, because everyone wants to do well, everyone wants to go in the breakaway so the excitement level will be really high in every rider so it will be really important to be careful to avoid crashes.
This year, I have been preparing for the grand tours in a different way compared to previous years. In June I did only a couple of races in Belgium where I was feeling really good, but I didn’t race a lot. Instead I did an altitude training camp with my teammate Magdeleine in Trentino and this really helped for the Giro. When I raced the Giro and the Italian national championships, I had good feelings in my legs. After the Giro I decided to go back to altitude for a week before the Tour de France to fully recover after the Giro, physically and mentally.”
“This race is an opportunity to challenge myself and take on a new challenge. I’ll certainly push my limits and really just experience the highest level of stage racing.
I think we have some really strong leaders, both for stages and potentially for the GC. What I bring to the team is that I’m a really strong support rider for all sorts of leaders. I can help out the sprinters, but I can also help out the climbers. Personally I’m just looking to take advantage of breakaway opportunities and to take in the whole experience of the Tour and pushing my limits. I’ve been preparing and training mostly at home. I’m now in Italy for my last block of training. For my race prep, I’ve not done anything too wild, just trying to be as prepared as possible. I think we have a strong roster that is well rounded so we can take advantage of different stages throughout the race. This is just such a big opportunity for me and I’m just really excited and proud to be on this roster. I’m really looking forward to racing.”
“As a Canadian, not too many people know about bike racing, but they do know about the Olympics and about the Tour de France, so it’s great to have a conversation with Canadian friends and family. It just really elevates and puts into perspective what I do as a professional cyclist. It’s easy for people to understand just the level that I’m at.
It’ll be my first year getting to race the Tour de France Femmes. It’ll be my longest stage race this year. I’ve had a good season obviously and I am excited to bring some leadership and some good teamwork to this race. It’s a really high pressure situation and this race is super high pressure. It’s the biggest stage. So many people are watching, friends and family, everyone around the world knows about this race, so I think I’ll be able to add a little bit of lightness to the atmosphere of the group. We come here with goals and dreams and hopes to do well in the overall or in stages, but also to be able to balance that with a love for what we get to do and an appreciation just for what we’ve trained our bodies to do. We’ll just get to see great talent and training displayed at this race. That’s what I think I add to the squad, bringing a good atmosphere and helping the team balance the pressure of the race and enjoying what we get to do, working together as a team for a shared goal and helping to make some good decisions on the road.
I’m really looking forward to getting to support Veronica. The team did a great job in the Giro keeping her in that fourth GC spot. I think the Tour is just harder, more teams are bringing their A game but I’m just excited to get to be a part of a big collective goal that’s super rewarding.
I have my eye on a stage or two. If I can save my energy to really go for a stage win, it would be just a dream for me. I was really focused on Canadian nationals to win the road championship there and I’m really excited to get to debut the new kit and the national jersey at the Tour de France Femmes.
I’ve just spent a lot of time with family and, for me, if I can spend time with family, it’s good for my heart, which puts me in a good headspace to want to fight when things get tough in the bike race. I’m just excited for my first time racing this race. I think it’s something that you want to have on your resumé just as a female cyclist to be at one of the biggest races in history and get to experience the fans and the crowds that are not like anything else. I’m excited to get stuck in.”