Tour de France Femmes set for Massif Central start in 2023

Race eschews Paris in favour of Clermont-Ferrand — at the foot of the Puy de Dôme

Van Vleuten
Annemiek Van Vleuten wins this years's TDF Femmes
(Image credit: Dario Belingheri / Getty Images)

There is no Paris start on the cards for this year's Tour de France Femmes, which is instead set to depart from Clermont-Ferrand in the Massif Central.

The race takes place over eight stages from Sat 23 to Sat 30 July next year, once again beginning the same day the men's race ends.

The full route is set to be announced on 27 October, along with that of the men's race.

The Massif Central is a region of medium mountains in mid-France, and a start there raises questions about what the rest of the route might look like — most obviously whether the race might take riders up the nearby Puy de Dôme climb, as looks set to be happening in the men's edition.

The dormant volcano is an iconic climb, with some of the Tour's most memorable moments having played out on its corkscrewing ascent.

The Tour de France Femmes was relaunched this year to great fanfare and success after a 32-year hiatus. Its Paris start, staged on the final day of a men's event, marked a neat handover between the two.

The one-day La Course event — which since 2014 had served as a rather token women's Tour equivalent — has also visited Paris on numerous occasions. With this year's Tour de France Femmes not starting in the capital, might it choose to end there instead? 

It feels like a distinct possibility, akin to the Paris, Milan or Madrid finishes at the men's Grand Tours.

This year's race was the first proper women's Tour de France since the Tour Féminin in the 1980s. With eight stages including a summit finish at Super Planche des Belles Filles, it was hailed as a huge step forward from the one-day La Course and for women's cycling more generally.

Won by Movistar's Dutch dynamo Annemiek Van Vleuten, who won two stages on her way to GC victory, the race began in Paris and finished with the Super Planche stage, bringing the race to a perfectly-timed denouement.

Next year's parcours could almost present a mirror image: with a start in hilly territory and a possible city centre finish, it will be interesting to see how the GC plays out over the course of the week, especially if the Puy de Dôme makes an early appearance. All will be revealed on the 27th October.

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