Less than a fortnight out from the long-awaited first edition of the Tour de France Femmes, there’s been more good news for the growth and development of women’s road cycling: the Tour de l’Avenir is expanding to include a women’s edition from 2023.
Founded in 1961, the Tour de l’Avenir (the ‘Tour of the Future’) is regarded as the U23 Tour de France, the most important stage race for young male riders. Previous winners include Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Nairo Quintana, Egan Bernal, and Tadej Pogačar.
In an announcement during the Tour de France rest day in Morzine, Tour de l’Avenir organisers announced a women’s edition of the race, “contested under the same format and open to up-and-coming cyclists under the age of 23, in perfect harmony with the general movement initiated this year with the Women’s Tour de France.”
Details about the women’s Tour de l’Avenir are scarce at this point, but we do know that it will be contested over five days (compared with the 10 stages of the men’s) and that it will start on the Wednesday after the men’s race finishes.
The men’s race is contested by national teams and while the following is yet to be confirmed, the fact the women’s event “will be contested under the same format” as the men’s suggests national teams might tackle the new race too.
While men’s road racing has a distinct U23 category and a calendar of U23-specific races, women’s racing is mostly without such opportunities. As a result, female riders are forced to move straight from the junior ranks into the elite field – a significant leap.
While the women’s Tour de l’Avenir won’t fix this systemic issue, it will at least provide an opportunity for U23 women to race against their peers in an event of significant prestige and difficulty.
The Tour de l’Avenir is traditionally held in mid-to-late August.