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Ex-pro and Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift race director Marion Rousse was overcome with emotion as the inaugural race ended Sunday atop the Super Plance des Belles Filles in spectacular fashion.
By nearly every measure, the first edition of the race was a resounding success.
“It was great. To be honest with you, I cried a few tears when I passed the summit finish at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles and saw everyone present at the edge of the roads,” Rousse said on French TV. “We can say to ourselves that we have been able to do something quite exceptional.”
Expectations were sky high when the high-profile race rolled out of Paris on July 24. Backed by Zwift and race organizers ASO, many were hoping for a top-level race and a well-organized event.
Rousse, who was tapped as race director by ASO, said the organization and the peloton outperformed at all levels.
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The race went off with barely a glitch, and the peloton delivered one thrilling moment after another. From Lorena Wiebes winning on the Champs-Élysées to Marianne Vos winning two stages and wearing the yellow jersey to Annemiek van Vleuten delivering a race-making attack in the mountains, the action was non-stop from start to finish.
“We have to savor what we managed to do it,” Rousse said. “It was a great show every day, and the organization was also great. The ASO team really treated this Tour as being a real Tour de France.
“I think we don’t realize what we’ve done yet, it will take us a few days to realize,” she said. “I was backstage with Van Vleuten, Vos and other girls, and everyone, at all levels of the race, is happy.”
Early indications also revealed top TV ratings for the race, and large crowds turned out every day to cheer on the peloton from Paris to the Vosges Mountains. Social media engagement was also very high.
🚴🏼♀️3,3 millions de tsp (30,9% de PdA) pour suivre le dénouement de la première édition du #TourdeFranceFemmes
📈 Pic à 5,1 millions de tsp (17h45)
— France•tv sport presse (@ftvsport_pro) August 1, 2022
More Tour de France Femmes viewer data – still more to come!
The 5 million average viewer boundary has been crossed already, Stage 8 is easier the most watched women's cycling race watched ever
ASO are claiming a reach of 20 million viewers watching a minute of the broadcast https://t.co/mNHzocyu5H
— Mathew Mitchell (@MatMitchell30) August 2, 2022
Some have already suggested tweaks on how to make the race even better in future editions, from adding more racing days to taking the course into the Alps or including an individual time trial.
Rousse said staffers and key stakeholders will sit down in the coming weeks and months to examine what went right and what can be improved, but she said it’s important to celebrate the historic milestone.
“We’ll take stock in a few days, but the base is very solid,” she said on French TV. “It was just great, we had an incredible week. Right now, I don’t at all want to think about what to change. We want to celebrate what we achieved.”