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Tour de France

Report: 2023 Tour de France Femmes to start in Clermont-Ferrand

Puy de Dôme could return for the 2023 men's Tour de France.

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The southern city of Clermont-Ferrand will play host to the grand départ of the second edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, according to local media.

According to La Montagne, the 2023 race will depart from Clermont-Ferrand on July 23 and will finish elsewhere on July 30. A second stage could be set in the Auvergne region with a possible stage from Saint-Genès-Champanelle to Mauriac.

Meanwhile, French cycling website Velowire has reported that the Puy de Dôme looks likely to be included in next year’s men’s Tour de France, if hotel bookings are to be believed. However, it’s not clear if it will be a full ascent or a partial one.

This year’s inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes set off from Paris to coincide with the final stage of the men’s race. It remained in the northern part of France with its conclusion taking place on Super Planche des Belles Filles.

“We have made gender equality an important point of our sports policy,” local Mayor Olivier Bianchi told La Montagne. “We, therefore, said that we were happy that the women’s Tour de France was restarting and that Clermont was potentially on the program for this event.”

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Race director Marion Rousse has reportedly been to visit Clermont-Ferrand in recent months. The final route of the Tour de France Femmes and the men’s Tour de France will be unveiled in a ceremony in Paris on October 27.

A return to Puy de Dôme for next year?

Velowire reports that local hotel bookings for July 9-10 indicate a potential visit to the Puy de Dôme for stage 9.

It’s not yet known if the Puy de Dôme will feature in full in next year’s men’s Tour de France or if officials will hold out for a total climb until 2024 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of a famous duel between Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor.

The Tour de France visited the Puy de Dôme some 13 times between 1952 and 1988 with some of the sports greatest champions winning atop the climb. Race director Christian Prudhomme has been keen to see the climb return and went on a reconnaissance mission to the area earlier this year.

A range of factors has prevented the Tour de France from returning to the climb that has seen some of its biggest battles. The growing size of the race was a major factor, as well as the building of a railway line in 2012.

Environmental concerns have also been a major obstacle for organizers with the Chaîne des Puys range awarded Unesco World Heritage listing in 2018. The Tour de France will have to take all of these factors into account if it is to return to the Puy de Dôme.

Velowire reports that if the race does go up the climb it is likely to be without aspects such as the advertising caravan.