(This thread is a work in progress. I'll add stage previews later on)
On Sunday, a few hours before the men finish their Tour de France on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, 144 riders from 28 countries will begin their 10-day journey through France in the first official Tour de France for women since 1989.
But fortunately, there have been other French stage races in the intervening period, although they have all struggled with issues like finding willing host cities, long transfers, poor accommodation and/or lack of coverage (not that those weren’t issues in the ASO race, too). And ASO has also been keeping a close eye on them to make sure their rights weren’t infringed, after they discontinued their rebranded Tour de la C.E.E. Féminin after 1993.
After introducing La Course in 2014, ASO has now finally turned it into a stage race (although La Course isn’t officially killed off yet). While the original ASO version (1984-89) was held alongside the men’s race and using some of the same finish lines, the new race will, at least for its first edition, be prolonging the French cycling party by another 8 stages, covering a total of 1034 kilometres.
The question is now, who will get to follow in the footsteps of riders like Millie Robinson, Marianne Martin, Maria Canins, Jeannie Longo, Catherine Marsal, Leontien van Moorsel, Fabiana Luperine, Edita Pučinskaitė, Joane Somarriba, Nicole Cooke, Emma Pooley, Amber Neben, Evelyn Stevens, Linda Villumsen, Judith Arndt, Claudia Lichtenberg and Susanne Ljungskoog (all winners of races which at some points have been seen the major French stage races)?
This list also includes heavy favourite Annemiek van Vleuten as well as Kasia Niewadoma and Elisa Longo Borghini, who are all former winners of the defunct La Route de France.
Annemiek van Vleuten
: Demi Vollering and Marta Cavalli
Kasia Niewiadoma, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio, Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, Elisa Longo Borghini, Mavi García and Juliette Labous
For instance Paulina Roojakkers, Kristen Faulkner, Évita Muzic, Amanda Spratt and Veronica Ewers