Demi Vollering: I’ve always wanted to ride Alpe d’Huez

Tour de France Femmes route almost tailor-made for defending champion with Dutch start, Ardennes stage and tough finale

Clock13:53, Wednesday 25th October 2023
Demi Vollering spoke to the media after the presentation of the 2024 Tour de France Femmes

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Demi Vollering spoke to the media after the presentation of the 2024 Tour de France Femmes

Looking at the route for the 2024 Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, which was unveiled in Paris on Wednesday, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a race practically tailor-made for the strengths, preferences and origins of its defending champion, Demi Vollering.

Her home nation for the start, a trip through the Ardennes with a mini version of the Monument Vollering has won twice, and a visit to Alpe d’Huez and its Dutch corner: almost every stage will have a special meaning or familiarity to the SD Worx rider.

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

Starting in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, the Grand Départ takes in Vollering’s old training roads, and towns she knows well. From there, it’s to the Ardennes, and the climbs of Amstel Gold Race and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, both races where the SD Worx rider has tasted much success, and counts as her favourites. Even stage 6 in the Vosges has a Vollering link: it skirts the border with eastern Switzerland, the area the 26-year-old has called home for the last few years.

“I was waiting for today to see the route, to see if we go through my backyard, maybe past my grandma’s house, things like this,” she told GCN and other media on the topic of the Grand Départ.

“So now that I’ve finally seen it, I recognise all the training roads that I do, and then of course we go to Limburg, also a special place for me. And then to Belgium and Liège - I don’t have to explain, that’s one of the races I love the most. I’m really excited.”

The finale in the Alps was always going to be Vollering’s terrain, as one of the very best climbers in the peloton, but with Alpe d’Huez the final stage is even more special: it’s a climb famed for its ‘Dutch corner’, and one whose cycling mythology has taken particular hold in the Netherlands.

“I look so much forward to [Alpe d’Huez],” Vollering said. “Because this is the mountain I heard about for the first time when I was a little kid. The Alpe d’Huez was the mountain in Holland. I always wanted to ride the mountain, I think it’s the highest on my list that I want to do. I’ve never done it, but I’m really excited that we finally go there now.”

No easy days in the Tour de France Femmes

For Vollering and her competitors, the Alpe will be undoubtedly be the centrepiece of the eight-stage race, but it’s a Tour that builds and builds in difficulty, with very few straightforward days. The last two stages in the Alps are hugely challenging, with stage 8 taking on two back-to-back hors catégorie climbs in Alpe d’Huez and the preceding Col du Glandon, whilst stage 7 is also a summit finish, with four categorised climbs preceding the final ascent to Le Grand-Bornand.

These stages are where the difficulty lies on paper, but Vollering was also keen to point out that the opening days in the Netherlands may not be easy. Though flat, the lack of climbing leaves room for plenty of aggression, plus the risk of crosswinds as stage 1 heads out towards the coast and The Hague.

“I think the first two days will be also pretty hectic, because it’s flat, and I know the roads there, it’s a lot of cities, maybe not such nice roads to race on,” she said. “But I’m happy that I know every corner there, so that will help me a lot of course. I hope it’s not too crazy, not too hectic there. I hope that there’s a lot of wind and that it’s a really nice race, but then after it will be really hard and hilly races. I think it has a bit of everything, so that’s nice.”

With a busy start and a double-header of mountain stages on the final weekend, in some ways this year’s edition looks more challenging than 2023 with its Tourmalet climax, but Vollering was hesitant to compare the two as she aims at consecutive victories.

“I don’t know if it’s harder, it’s different,” Vollering surmised. “In the end there are a lot of kilometres, if I remember it’s 150km, 150km, 160km, like this, so it’s a lot of kilometres, but for now I’m just too excited to think about if it’s harder than last year or not.”

If all eyes weren’t already on Demi Vollering as the defending champion, they certainly are now that the world knows just how perfect for her this Tour de France Femmes could be. There may be benefits to that, but the added expectation will be a challenge, too.

“It will put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, but most important is that I can also enjoy it a lot,” she said. “This is something that’s only once in a lifetime, so I need to keep reminding myself that I need to enjoy it.”

For the latest news, information and route details about the 2024 Tour de France Femmes, head over to our dedicated race page.

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