Date: Sunday, July 24
Finish: Champs Élysées
Distance: 82 km
The Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift is set to start at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday a few hours before the men make their way into Paris. For the women, the first yellow jersey is up for grabs, so the relatively short 82 km race will be a fast one. Expect a lot of attacks, especially with some mountain points available a little less than 20 km from the finish. A few sprinters will find it amusing to pull on those iconic polka dots, but it is also a chance for someone in a breakaway to stand on the podium in front of thousands of fans.
The Champs-Élysées, where the women will finish, was the site of the first La Course by the Tour de France in 2014, so racing on the cobbled streets will be nothing new. Unlike the 2015 edition, the weather is expected to be around 32ºC with zero chance of rain.
Now, don’t let the profile fool you. The Champs is a false flat uphill, so by the time the peloton rounds the final corner and sprints for victory, there will definitely be some tired legs and riders missing. The cobbles add the need for some upper body strength and expert handling. This will not be your standard opening stage sprint.
Who will win stage 1?
There are three top-tier contenders for the first yellow jersey in Paris. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), who won the first La Course by Le Tour on the Champs in 2014 is primed to take this first stage. She is fresh off two stage wins at the Giro Donne and she even left the Italian ‘Grand Tour’ early to re-focus on the Tour.
However, it will be a challenge for Vos to beat Lorena Wiebes. The Team DSM rider is, without doubt, the best sprinter in the women’s peloton at the moment and the first stage has her name written all over it. Wiebes recently prepared for the Tour by winning all four road stages of the Baloise Ladies Tour. When it comes to a fast finish, she has really only been beaten once this year and that time she had a broken spoke.
The only rider to have bested Wiebes in a sprint in 2022 is another favorite for Sunday. Elisa Balsamo is Trek-Segafredo’s hope for yellow on the Champs. The world champion was just at the Giro Donne, where she won two stages and wore pink for a few days.
Since the first stage is predicted to end in a fast finish, sprinters with strong teams will have the upper hand. This is where Balsamo and Wiebes have an advantage over Vos. Team DSM and Trek-Segafredo have perfected their lead-outs, while Vos is usually left to find her own way to the line.
Watch the stage live from 1pm local time. If you want to follow along from the time the stage starts at 11:30 local time there are a few options. The UCI website has a “race hub” with updates on the race situation. A favourite among women’s cycling fans is Peter van der Veen on Twitter who always knows what’s going on. Plus there is always #TDFF on Twitter.
The ASO has promised two hours of live coverage a day. For those in the U.K. and Europe, coverage can be found on Eurosport and their streaming platforms which include GCN+. In the USA the race will be shown live on CNBC and on the Peacock app or website while in Canada viewers can tune into FloBikes. Australians are lucky enough to have the race on SBS which means presenting from the lovely Gracie Elvin (member of the Freewheeling podcast by CyclingTips).