After just two editions, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift has already established itself as the premier event on the Women’s WorldTour calendar.
The prestige of the Tour name, coupled with the experienced organisation of ASO, has succeeded in elevating the profile of women’s racing, giving the riders an opportunity to race for an emblem that transcends the sport: the yellow jersey.
Before the route for the third edition was officially presented in Paris on Wednesday, we knew that the race would feature a Grand Départ outside of France for the first time, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
In the days before the presentation, rumours also began to circulate of an Alpe d’Huez finish for the final stage of the 2024 race. Following on from the Col du Tourmalet in 2023, an Alpe d’Huez grand finale would be another key draw, building on the memorable parcours of the two previous iterations.
The aim has been to steadily increase the length and difficulty of the race as the depth of the women’s peloton increases with each year. From a weekend finale in the Vosges mountains in 2022, to the Col du Tourmalet in 2023, it was confirmed that the race will now head to the Alps for the first time with the women finally tackling the 21 hairpins of l’Alpe d’Huez.
But what else does the route have in store, and what will it mean for the outcome?
A race of two halves
Although the race will finish atop one of the most iconic French cycling arenas, it begins much further away, in Rotterdam. After establishing an entirely separate race from the men’s event in 2023, the Tour de France Femmes continues to go its own way, with two opening stages in Rotterdam and stage 4 also starting in the Netherlands before crossing the border into Belgium.
It is only on stage 5 that the peloton will finally enter the country after which the race is named, heading from Bastogne in the Wallonie region of Belgium to Amnéville in the northeast of France.
Before that, however, they will tackle a flat 124km opening stage from Rotterdam to The Hague. The pan-flat parcours and a wide, uncomplicated final 5km means the stage has ‘bunch sprint’ written all over it. It should be a fairly straightforward day, providing the wind doesn’t wreak havoc as the riders traverse the wide open roads surrounded by tulip fields.
In an unusual twist, the second and third stages will take place across a single day. Dordrecht will host the start of a surprisingly short 67km road stage before the…