The Tour de France Femmes may not be the inaugural Tour de France for women. It existed with varying degrees of involvemen­t (shrinking eventually to zero) from Tour organisers ASO and its predecesso­r the Société du Tour de France for over 20 years between 1984 and 2009. However, the 2022 Tour de France Femmes, launched in tandem with the men’s event in Paris, looks like a meaningful project by ASO that improves vastly on La Course, their previous offering.

The Tour Femmes is an eight- day race which shares the Champs-Élysées with the men on the same day for its opening stage, then heads east to finish at La Planche des Belles Filles. It finally looks as if ASO have made an effort to take advantage of the incredible terrain France offers for bike racing to create a coherent and well- designed week-long race. There is a mix of flat stages, punchy hills, gravel and two days in the Vosges. Critics might have pointed out that there are no Alps or Pyrenees, and that most of France is ignored. However it would be surprising and disappoint­ing if those things didn’t come in future years, and the race actually looks more open and exciting than if a high-mountain summit finish dominated the race. ASO have been slow to the party in setting up a women’s Tour de France, but the 2022 edition shows that they are finally waking up.

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