The route for the inaugural women’s Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24 next year.
The first complete edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends.
After a route through northern France, the race culminates on the cobbles of the Champs Elysees beneath the Arc de Triomphe.
Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, said it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense throughout the eight stages.
“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.
“With only eight stages, we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.
“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 225 kilometres. For the girls, the longest race on our roster is 175km, and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said.
“But it’s a course I love. There will be sprint finishes on the first two stages.”
Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organisers, was equally enthusiastic.
“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.
“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1 and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”