Women's cycling will enter a new dimension. On Sunday 24 July, as the UCI World Tour riders finish the Tour de France, it is the women who will be in the saddle for eight stages that look particularly competitive. Four will take place on the plains, two will be hilly and two will be in the mountains with a prestigious finish at the Planche des Belles Filles.
Getting the best out of each stage
For Cofidis, the event is all the more special as it is the first year of the team's women's section. In order to shine, the team from the north of France relies on a well-oiled team, capable of doing well in each stage. It has been built around Rachel Neylan (40 years old), 7th of the Bretagne Ladies Tour this year.
The Australian will be surrounded by the Italian Martina Alzini (25), winner of the 4th stage of the Bretagne Ladies Tour, the Belgian Alana Castrique (23, 7th of her national championships) as well as the French riders Sandra Levenez (43), Valentine Fortin (22) and Victoire Berteau (21, best French rider of Paris-Roubaix, 17th). A varied field that will allow the riders to try their luck on the flat stages, the more hilly ones and the mountain stages. It is an opportunity to give it all, to do honour to the Cofidis colours and to write a little more history in women's cycling.
"Wearing the colours of a French team, on this event, will be incredible!"
"The Tour de France Women with Zwift will definitely be a highlight of the calendar and a great lever for the development and influence of women's cycling. There is a lot of expectation around this race. I am convinced that this event will contribute to raising the level of the whole peloton. It will be special to race it in Cofidis' first season. It will be incredible to ride in the colours of a French team in this event! The stages will certainly be very competitive and we will do our best to seize the opportunities on each day. I really want to give it my all to get good results and help my team-mates. We have an eclectic, mature team that is progressing race after race. All the training sessions and hours of training during the year have only one goal: to be at 100% for one of the biggest races of my career."
"I am really honoured to take part in this first Tour de France for women, especially with Cofidis for whom it is also the first year. I took part in my first major Tour this summer with the Giro Donne, where I felt really good. Taking part in the Tour de France is the continuation of my year. Now it's up to me to do my best and show the team's colours. I would like to finish at least in the top 15 on a stage and collectively it will be difficult to win the overall with the loss of Clara, our leader, due to injury. A start at the foot of the Eiffel Tower is magical. There is going to be a lot of media coverage, and that is really positive for women's cycling. The final preparations are underway and all we have to do is give it our all. I can't wait!"
Gaël Le Bellec, Directeur Sportif:
"We hope to be able to create some nice surprises. Of course, we had to adapt to the last-minute withdrawal of Clara Koppenburg and Cedrine Kerbaol. If we don't aim for a place of honour in the general classification, we will try our luck to join the breakaways and try to get into the battle for stage victories. To take part in this is obviously a huge opportunity. But it should not be seen as an end but as the beginning of an adventure. It's a very prestigious race and it's obviously an extra motivation to try to achieve good results.
THE TEAM IN BRIEF
Martina Alzini, 25, Italian
Victoire Berteau, 21, French
Alana Castrique, 23, Belgian
Valentine Fortin, 23, French
Sandra Levenez, 43, French
Rachel Neylan, 40, Australian
Sports Directors: Gaël Le Bellec and Arthur Quilliec