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Who are the favourites for the 2022 Tour de France Femmes?

Cyclist looks at which riders could win the yellow jersey at the inaugural edition of the Tour de France Femmes

Will Strickson
22 Jul 2022

The Tour de Frances Femmes is finally here. On Sunday, riders will set off from Paris for eight stages of full-gas racing and history making.

While it’s not the first women’s Tour de France, it is the inaugural ‘Tour de France Femmes’, and will be the first opportunity for this generation of riders to to make their mark on what should be the biggest stage in cycling.

A total of 132 riders will race 1,029km from Paris to La Super Planche des Belles Filles, with sprints, gravel and mountains to be navigated.

With the same jerseys on offer as the men’s Tour de France, they will be competing for green, polka dots, white and of course yellow.

So, who are the favourites to take the win the maillot jaune of the Tour de France Femmes overall general classification?

Annemiek van Vleuten

Photo: Giro Donne

On paper, nobody will get near Annemiek van Vleuten in this contest. With Anna van der Breggen retired, she’s by far the best stage racer and climber in the peloton.

Having won both Strade Bianche and the Tour of Flanders twice, the off-tarmac sections will barely need a second thought from the Dutch sensation.

However, this is the first Tour de France Femmes, so everyone will be 100 times more motivated to bring it to Van Vleuten, so it will be far from easy.

Plus she’s just ridden and won the ten-stage Giro Donne. Might that have taken something out of her or is a Giro-Tour double set in stone?

Strengths: Unmatched in the mountains

Weaknesses: Has a Giro Donne win in her legs

Demi Vollering and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio

Photo: Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

SD Worx is packed to the brim with some of the most talented riders in cycling.

You won’t find a more stacked squad than theirs and for the GC they’ll be hoping either Demi Vollering or Ashleigh Moolman Pasio will get a big result.

The latter is a super talented climber who will be looking to those last two mountain stages to make her mark, while the former is an ever-improving all-rounder who has been under Anna van der Breggen’s tutelage to take her place at the top of SD Worx’s stage race hierarchy.

Neither raced at the Giro Donne and Vollering has been publicly riding the Alsace roads where the race reaches its climax for several months now.

If the full beast of SD Worx gets it right, these two may be the strongest option to beat AvV, but the team has struggled with having too many weapons at points early in the season, so with joint leadership and a strong sprint option in Lotte Kopecky, we'll have to see how the dynamic plays out.

Strengths: Two strong riders can be used tactically; Fresh legs; Vollering has a big sprint

Weaknesses: Have to beat Annemiek van Vleuten; Too many options have led to questionable tactics at points 

Marta Cavalli and Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig

Photo: Thomas Maheux

If I were a betting man – I'm not – I’d be placing some cash on this pair from FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope.

While they did both just ride the Giro Donne, Marta Cavalli showed herself as a legitimate rival to Annemiek van Vleuten, coming second on GC, 1:52 down, and with both in form – Uttrup Ludwig finished sixth overall – they could be the dream combination to get a result in France.

Cavalli has already shown herself to be 2022’s breakout star, taking impressive wins in Amstel Gold Race and Flèche Wallonne in the classics, going head to head to beat Van Vleuten uphill in the latter, so a podium for her would be a safe bet and the white jersey almost a lock.

It's just a matter of how the recovery is going.

Strengths: Cavalli is closest challenger to Van Vleuten uphill; Can play team tactics

Weaknesses: Both rode Giro Donne; Have to beat Annemiek van Vleuten

Elisa Longo Borghini

Photo: SWPix

Now we’ve spoken of teams packed with talent, Trek-Segafredo have shown time and time again that their riders get big wins.

While Lizzie Deignan sits this one out with pregnancy, a stacked lineup will be hoping to get results with their two Italian Elisas, Balsamo and Longo Borghini.

ELB is one of the standout riders of her generation and can do it on any terrain with strong climbing legs and a punchy finish to boot.

It’ll be a tough ask to take it to Van Vleuten but with so much ability and experience, and the form to match with a Women’s Tour overall win, Longo Borghini will be a key player in France.

Strengths: True all-rounder for varied terrain; Fast finish; Strong team; Fresh legs

Weaknesses: Has to beat Annemiek van Vleuten; Team goals split with Balsamo

Kasia Niewiadoma and Pauliena Rooijakkers

Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images

While Kasia Niewiadoma takes most of Canyon-SRAM’s headlines with her successful all-or-nothing racing style, with the extra card of Pauliena Rooijakkers, an underrated climber, the team find themselves in a strong position.

Whether that’s simply by having an extra option should one struggle – and Niewiadoma has struggled to find her top form in 2022 – or to match the wealth of co-leader strategies at the race, it should serve them well.

Neither were at the Giro Donne, with their last appearances both in June at the Women’s Tour – where the Polish rider finished third overall – and the Tour de Suisse – where Rooijakkers also finished third as well as winning the mountains classification – so the legs are there and theoretically fresh.

Strengths: Strong climbers; best kit in the peloton; Niewiadoma is a pitbull

Weaknesses: Have to beat Annemiek van Vleuten

The other big battle

This is all without mentioning the sheer number quality riders that will be fighting for stage wins and the other jerseys.

The biggest one to look out for is the green jersey fight, with two of the sport’s great emerging rivals both in the form of their lives and staring down the barrel of the GOAT, who will likely be looking to take her rightful place in this slice of cycling history.

Marianne Vos, Elisa Balsamo and Lorena Wiebes will be all be facing off in the sprints, with Wiebes less comfortable when the road goes uphill but if Vos really wants green she’s more than capable of fighting for all eight stages. Especially over the gravel.

For our all our Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes coverage, visit our hub page.