Where the 2024 Tour de France Femmes will be won

Crosswinds, Classics roads and mountains - the key stages that will decide the yellow jersey

Clock15:42, Thursday 26th October 2023
Demi Vollering sealed Tour de France Femmes victory in 2023 with a stage win atop the Col du Tourmalet

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Demi Vollering sealed Tour de France Femmes victory in 2023 with a stage win atop the Col du Tourmalet

The route for the 2024 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, unveiled in Paris on Wednesday, has something for everyone, in true Grand Tour style. There are sprints, a time trial, punchy days, and of course, a visit to the mountains for a heavy dose of climbing.

Naturally, like any big stage race, the overall is expected to be decided in the mountains, namely the Alps, where the Montée du Chinaillon, Col du Glandon and Alpe d’Huez are poised to open up race-defining gaps between the big names. However, the race is a lot more than just stages 7 and 8, and a broader look at the Tour shows that it can be won - and lost - in a lot of different places.

In order to be the rider who dons the final yellow jersey atop Alpe d’Huez, the eventual winner - whether that’s Demi Vollering, Kasia Niewiadoma, Juliette Labous or another name - will have to get through not just the Alps, but crosswinds in the Netherlands, Classics climbs in Belgium, and sprints in France.

With 946km of road and 10,700m of elevation gain to contend with across the eight stages, the peloton will have to get through a lot during the Tour de France Femmes, but here are some of the key moments, climbs and stages that will help crown the winner.

Read more: Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift 2024 route revealed

Grand Départ can’t be underestimated

Most riders will be hoping the race won’t be decided in the first two days, but whilst the three stages that make up the Grand Départ in Rotterdam look fairly innocuous, there is a possibility for action. Stage 3 is the time trial, which some may think could be decisive, but in reality it’s only 6.3km, which won’t be enough for any real gaps to open up among the GC riders, who are all acceptable time trialists. The short, fast stage 2 from Dordrecht to Rotterdam could throw up some chaos, but most likely won’t see any big problems either.

Where many are foreseeing some risky racing, then, is stage 1, from Rotterdam to The Hague. Not because of any climbing - there’s not even a token categorised climb - but because of the possibility of crosswinds. Heading towards the coastal finish town, the Dutch flatlands will be very exposed to winds, and if echelons form at the right time, it could prove costly for some.

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

Mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be important

The first day expressly designed to possibly shake up the GC comes on stage 4, in what has been described by race director Marion Rousse as a mini Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In fact, it’s a mini Liège with a pinch of Amstel Gold Race thrown in, as the day gets underway with ascents of the Cauberg, Bemelerberg and Geulhemmerberg, just to get the legs nice and tired early on.

From there, the route heads towards the climbs of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and whilst the ascents might not look too big on paper - the longest is Mont-Theux, 2.8km at 5.6% - we know from the Spring Classics that these roads can be really hard, especially when raced aggressively. This really could be a day that sees the race break apart, especially if a strong and motivated rider or group gets away and takes advantage to take some time. We saw in the 2023 Tour de France Femmes how a rider like Lotte Kopecky can take time early on and, with only eight stages, it’s not impossible to defend that and turn it into a high overall finish.

For a rider who is perhaps weaker in the long climbs but has a good kick and time trialling engine, this will be an enticing day to try and attack, and it’s not outlandish to say that the right move could propel a rider up the standings in a meaningful way.

More than just the finales on stages 7 and 8

Getting to stages 7 and 8 in the Alps, this is where all the riders who are still in contention for yellow will battle it out and leave everything on the road in the pursuit of overall victory. Naturally, all eyes are on the back-to-back summit finishes, to Le Grand-Bornand and Alpe d’Huez respectively. The finish lines atop these climbs are, of course, where the race will technically be won, but which parts of the stages are actually going to be the most decisive?

In the case of stage 7, it’s hard to imagine that the protagonists will wait until the final 7km climb to attack - this stage is going to explode before that. Entering the Haute-Savoie region and the Alps for the first time in Tour de France Femmes history, tension will be high and the attacks should start flying early. The Côte de Cercier is categorised at 4km long, but in fact carries on for almost 8km more at a gentler gradient, which could be a good time for a rider or team to make things hard. Put one or two key competitors in trouble, and that could be a race-winning move, before the rise to the finish even begins.

As for stage 8, naturally all the attention is going to be on Alpe d’Huez, but it’s very possible that the winning selection could be made well before then. For the first time in the women’s race, they will tackle back-to-back hors catégorie climbs on one stage, with the Col du Glandon preceding the Alpe. And whilst the Alpe is the headline, the race may well be won on the Glandon.

The Col du Glandon is 19.7km long - almost 6km longer than Alpe d’Huez - and whilst the marginally gentler gradient and lack of punishing hairpins may make it slightly easier in theory, it’s a very hard climb that is sure to make the selection on this stage. The strongest climbers will be able to drop the weaker riders without too much effort, and with almost 20km to complete, this could become a very, very select group by the top. Attacking on the penultimate climb used to be Annemiek van Vleuten’s MO, and it usually worked for her, so what’s to say we won’t see a long, dominant solo move on the final stage of the Tour?

A head-to-head battle up the Alpe d’Huez might be what cycling fans dream of, but solo raids are just as possible, and with a history-making win and yellow jersey victory up for grabs, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a big name go the distance with a long range attack from the Glandon.

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

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