Tour de France Femmes 2024: can anyone beat Demi Vollering to a second victory?

Analysing the riders who will be aiming for yellow next August - Vollering, Niewiadoma, Labous and more

Clock12:34, Friday 27th October 2023
Demi Vollering, Kasia Niewiadoma, Juliette Labous, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

© Sprint Cycling Agency

Vollering, Niewiadoma, Labous and Uttrup Ludwig will be four of the favourites for yellow next summer

With the route for the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift unveiled this week, and the key stages and climbs duly dissected, attention turns to the big question: who will win the race? Will someone new succeed Annemiek van Vleuten and Demi Vollering as yellow jersey winner, or is it defending champion Vollering’s race to lose?

With a Dutch start, a Liège-Bastogne-Liège stage and a visit to Alpe d’Huez, in many ways the race looks tailor-made for Demi Vollering, and the 26-year-old is certainly the strongest stage racer among the current peloton. However, the Tour de France Femmes is a race that every rider wants to win, and every rider targets, so SD Worx will have a lot of motivated riders as competitors in the hunt for yellow.

From two-time podium finisher Kasia Niewiadoma to possible Tour debutant Gaia Realini, here are some of the key contenders for next year’s Grande Boucle, and the riders who could beat Demi Vollering to victory.

Read more: Opinion: The Tour de France Femmes is delivering on its promises of growth

Demi Vollering (SD Worx)

Age: 26

TDFF pedigree: Overall winner in 2023, Queen of the Mountains in 2022, one stage win on the Tourmalet

WorldTour wins: 24

Without a doubt the woman to beat at next year’s Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, Demi Vollering has been on an upward trajectory at the ASO’s flagship since her breakthrough performances at La Course in 2019 and 2020. Steadily impressing in her first campaign with SD Worx in 2021, Vollering was always destined to be Anna van der Breggen’s heir and not only has the 26-year-old become accustomed to the crown, but she also toppled Van der Breggen’s long-time rival, Annemiek van Vleuten, in her final season as a pro.

Now, says Van Vleuten, there is no rider standing in the way of Vollering establishing herself as the hegemonic force of the Women’s WorldTour and there is no way better to do this than by retaining her Tour de France Femmes title in 2024. An excellent rouleur over the parcours that litter the middle portion of next year’s route, Vollering will look at stage 4’s ‘Classics’ course with glee, given that she is a two-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège champion and even added Amstel Gold Race to her palmarès earlier this year.

As was established on the Col du Tourmalet at this summer’s Tour de France Femmes, the Dutchwoman is a force unmatched in the high mountains and should she enter the Alps with fine form next time around, she will likely be the favourite to mop up the honours on the Tour’s inaugural ascent of Alpe d’Huez. With a star-studded lineup that will likely include Marlen Reusser, Niamh Fisher-Black and co, it will take a lot to beat Vollering at next year’s Tour de France Femmes.

Kasia Niewiadoma (Canyon-SRAM)

Age: 29

TDFF pedigree: 2 x third overall, Queen of the Mountains in 2023

WorldTour wins: 5

'Floodgates' and 'open' are the words that come to mind when discussing Kasia Niewiadoma, a rider who went more than four years without a victory and has since taken two in as many weeks. The Polish fan favourite may well have taken her recent successes on the gravel scene, winning the UCI World Championships and the subsequent Big Sugar Classic, but one should not underestimate the confidence boost this can give Niewiadoma on the road next season. Forever the bridesmaid, never the bride, the Canyon-SRAM rider has often come up short on the WorldTour and has recently expressed her joy at being able to raise her arms in celebration, rather than bowing her head in disappointment at taking yet another podium place.

In full flight, Niewiadoma is one of the most dynamic and opportunist riders in the pack, seemingly always on the front foot and ready to race for the win. But all too often, there have been one or two stronger riders on the day, with her two Tour de France Femmes participations yielding two third places thus far.

More of a puncheur than a pure climber, Niewiadoma’s opportunities may fall in the first half of the race, where crosswinds and nervous racing could open up the chance to develop an early lead in the GC. It won’t be easy, and SD Worx will be sniffing out any moves like a dog to a bone, but it will be the best possible way for the likes of Niewiadoma to cause a surprise against Vollering.

Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ-SUEZ)

Age: 28

TDFF pedigree: One stage win in 2022, 7th overall in both 2022 and 2023

WorldTour wins: 6

With the men’s Tour de France dominated by a Dane for the last two years, could 2024 be the year a Danish rider steps onto the podium of the women’s race too? Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig will certainly be hoping so, as she attempts another assault on the yellow jersey. Though perhaps not thought of as a pure climber, Uttrup Ludwig can certainly survive on longer climbs, and finished ninth on the Tourmalet in 2023. Where she will excel in the 2024 Tour is the early stages, where her aggressive style will be rewarded, so if she can gain some time and defend it in the mountains, she should be on her way to a good overall finish.

Of course, FDJ-SUEZ are in the position of also having Marta Cavalli in their squad, who is a GC contender in her own right and possibly a better climber than Uttrup Ludwig, but the Italian may struggle in the punchier stages early on, and may focus her attention on the Giro d’Italia instead.

Juliette Labous (dsm-firmenich)

Age: 24

TDFF pedigree: Fifth overall in 2023 and fifth on the Tourmalet, fourth overall in 2022

WorldTour wins: 2

When it comes to French hopes, all the home attention will be pinned on Juliette Labous, who is quickly becoming a rider known for her performances in stages races and longer climbs. One-day racing isn’t really her speciality, but she shines in races with back-to-back, hard stages. She’s been performing well for several seasons now, but had her best result when she finished second overall at the Giro d’Italia in 2023, behind winner Annemiek van Vleuten. She may be tempted to focus on the Giro in 2024, but in reality, it’s hard to imagine a French rider totally snubbing the Tour, and we’re sure it will be a big aim.

She finished fifth on the Tourmalet in 2023, proving herself as one of the very best climbers, and should perform equally well in the Alps next season. The only drawback for Labous is her team, who will also be supporting Charlotte Kool for a sprints and green jersey goal, and haven’t typically had the best mountain support in their ranks. The addition of Josie Nelson for 2024 may be a help, but the lack of domestiques will be Labous’ greatest weakness compared to her rivals.

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (AG Insurance Soudal Quick-Step)

Age: 37

TDFF pedigree: Sixth overall in 2023 and fourth on the Tourmalet after not finishing the 2022 edition

WorldTour wins: 2

Ashleigh Moolman Pasio is, by some margin, the oldest rider on this list, but she’s not a name to be written off. In recent years, the South African has looked like one of the closest matches to Annemiek van Vleuten, even able to beat her on occasion, and is a climber who can take on both the punchy ascents and the long mountain efforts.

Moolman Pasio’s first Tour, where she was co-leading with Demi Vollering at SD Worx, was derailed by illness, but she came back as a sole leader in 2023 and took sixth overall after one of the strongest rides on the Tourmalet. The early, punchy stages in next year’s Tour shouldn’t be a problem for the 37-year-old, and then she’s likely to be a formidable force in the Alps. A podium finish will certainly be the goal as she looks to tick off some achievements before her career comes to a close.

Gaia Realini (Lidl-Trek)

Age: 22

TDFF pedigree: No starts

WorldTour wins: 1

From the oldest to the youngest, 22-year-old Gaia Realini is a fresh but exciting rider who should be considered a real contender for next year’s Tour de France. She didn’t race the Tour this year, with her team preferring to give her young legs a break after racing both the Giro and the Vuelta, but she excelled in both those races, finishing third in both after strong and attacking rides all week. Despite her small stature, Realini isn’t one of the lightweight climbers who struggles on punchier days - the Italian seems to be able to do it all, and is super strong on the flatter days too, so the early stages of the race shouldn’t be a big risk for her.

If Realini can make it into the mountains without losing time or form, she will be a big threat on the longer climbs, and may be the new, exciting name that is needed to really push Demi Vollering to the limits.

Contributions from George Poole

To find out more about the Tour de France Femmes 2024, head to our dedicated race page.

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