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Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift: What we know about the 2023 route

The route will officially be announced Thursday, October 27, but there is plenty of speculation about it, including a summit finish on the Tourmalet.

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The route unveiling of the second Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift route is just two days away and speculation about where the race will go has been growing.

This season saw the first edition of the ASO-organized event, the first official women’s Tour de France since the 1980s. It was the culmination of several years of campaigning from many women involved in the sport.

Going into the race, there were high expectations about what it could do for women’s racing but there were also nerves that crowd sizes and TV viewership figures would fall as the week progressed.

Worries were quickly allayed, and the inaugural Tour de France Femmes beat all expectations with millions tuning in every day to watch the race on television and fans lining the streets throughout.

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The eight-day race started amidst the festival atmosphere of the final stage of the men’s event in Paris and headed east for a dramatic final-day showdown on the Super Planche des Belles Filles. There were some criticisms about the route, such as the lack of time trial, but it was largely well-received.

With just two days to go before we know for certain what the race will look like, there is plenty of interest in how ASO will build upon the 2022 parcours. The race organizer has prevented too much information from leaking out into public domain but there are still some early details available.

What we do know for sure it that the race will start on July 23, the same day as the men’s race will conclude, and finish on July 30, making it eight stages long. Following this year’s edition, some riders had expressed a desire for a longer race, but ASO said it would keep the eight-day format for at least 2023.

There are strong rumors, which came out earlier this month, that the race will not start in Paris again and will instead start in Clermont-Ferrand, the capital of the Auvergne region. French newspaper La Montagne reported that race director Marion Rousse had been to visit the area and quoted local mayor Olivier Bianchi about his desire to hold the race in the city.

While the Paris start this season was welcomed by the peloton, it was acknowledged that it limited the options for the race route given the eight-day length. Situated some 400 kilometers south of the French capital, a start in Clermont-Ferrand opens up the options of going to the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Massif Central.

Where to go?

Well, rumors appear to send the race southwest toward the Pyrenees.

In that same La Montagne article, a second stage from Saint-Genès-Champanelle to Mauriac is put forward. That takes the race over 100 kilometers south of Clermont-Ferrand and well on its way toward the Pyrenees.

From there, the details become a little less firm. However, French journalist Nicolas Georgereau, who works for broadcaster RTL France, suggests that the race will pass through Albi, Blagnac, and Lannemezan on the way south.

This route would take the race to within touching distance of some iconic climbs.

A report by local French publication La Nouvelle République des Pyrénées says that Lannemezan will be the start town for a stage that finishes atop the Tourmalet. According to the report, the route will take the riders via the Sainte-Marie de Campan approach and through La Mognie.

The climb to the top is 17.2km long and averages 7.4 percent with a maximum gradient of 12 percent. If confirmed, it would see the race go over 2,000 meters of elevation for the first time.

The Tourmalet finale is likely to be the penultimate stage with Nicolas Georgereau also reporting that the race looks destined to finish in Pau, which is also rumored to be a start town for a stage of the men’s race.

A finish in Pau allows for many possibilities for the final stage parcours. It could be the end of another mountainous stage, a time trial, or a rolling stage that could see a small sprint finish.

VeloNews will have all the details as soon as their announced Thursday, 27 October.