By now you’ve probably heard that women’s pro cycling took one giant leap towards equity by earning a stage at the Tour de France. What makes it even better is that the women’s stage – La Course – will be held on the final day of the Tour, July 27, on the same course as the final men’s stage. This is huge for so many reasons, but one intangible that can’t be ignored is the exposure that racing on the Champs-Elysées on the final day of the Tour will give women’s cycling. Pro women’s cycling will be broadcast on the biggest day of the year with wide international TV, radio, and press coverage. The lights couldn’t be brighter. The crowds will be huge. What a glorious day! Thanks should go to the advocates who fought for this: Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos, Kathrine Bertine, Chrissie Wellington, and everyone who signed petitions and spoke out in support.
To be sure this isn’t a full Tour de France for women yet, but it couldn’t be a more significant start. I am confident that women will be eventually racing in a complete Tour de France of their own. What a fantastic step towards that!
All women who ride will benefit from this exposure, whether they are amateur racers or casual riders or bike commuters. This will have a carryover effect on women’s cycling at all levels. Seeing women ride La Course will inspire countless women and girls to ride more. More demand will mean that bike shops will better support female riders and better service for all women who ride will be an end result.
Many women are intimidated by bike shops that cater to competitive male riders. They feel they aren’t adequately represented there (I mean really, one rack of women’s jerseys and shorts? Is that all you’ve got?), male techs often don’t understand the goals of female riders, and we often “make do” with men’s bikes and clothing and equipment. Respect means representation. Representation means respect. I am sure there will be a day when women will not feel intimidated when they go to a bike shop, when we will have a plethora of bikes to choose from, when women’s gear takes up as much retail space as men’s gear. There will be more bike clubs for women to join and more pro races. More races will be broadcast on TV because we will demand it. More demand will increase better support. It’s a beautiful circle.
Just this morning while I was out on my daily ride I noticed more women riders than men. I believe that’s the first time it’s happened. Could women already be feeling inspired? I hope so. The sky is the limit, ladies!
- Women to Compete at Tour de France
- La Course by Le Tour de France – a game changer for Women’s Cycling
- Pooley calls La Course by Le Tour de France a great platform for women’s cycling
- ASO announces women’s race at 2014 Tour de France
Momentum is building for a women’s Tour de France and it’s got some pretty amazing names behind it: Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Chrissie Wellington. These impressive women are tops in women’s pro racing and competitive sports. They say:
We established this campaign to help support the growth of women’s cycling and build a sport with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal – starting with a women’s race at the Tour de France.
In the link you’ll find their manifesto, a petition, news & media links, FAQ, and a kit/jersey for sale to support the cause. It’s inspiring!
They hope to have a pilot race going in 2014, alongside the men’s race. This would be a shorter race than the traditional men’s Tour de France and would give race fans a nice taste of what a women’s Tour de France could be.
It won’t be easy; women’s races are not as popular as men’s races. But with exposure and support I hope this momentum builds and we will soon see more media coverage of women’s races. I’d love to find women’s races in my channel lineup!
Would you watch a women’s Tour de France?
- Emma Pooley remains frustrated at women’s low status in cycling (theguardian.com)
- Sport Minister calls for a Tour de France race for women (itv.com)
- Nicole Cooke fights to close cycling’s divide as Tour of Britain starts | Richard Williams (theguardian.com)
Hm, well. No one said it would be easy:
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the main opposition Labour Party, wrote an open letter to Prudhomme last week urging him to look at staging a women’s event at next year’s Grand Depart, the opening stage of the tour, which is being staged in the northern English county of Yorkshire.
Harman, who has campaigned for women’s rights throughout her career, saw her letter to Prudhomme backed by a 70,000 strong petition.
But Prudhomme said simply bolting on a women’s race to a Tour that is already full to capacity was not practical.
“It would have been better for (Harman) to talk to us at the end of one of the stages or after another race,” said Prudhomme on a visit to Yorkshire on Friday. “We are not the only organizers of cycling in the world.
“Also, it would have been much easier to talk to us directly instead of a petition and (finding out by) opening your mailbox one morning and you don’t know what has happened.
“We are open to everything. Having women’s races is very important for sure. (But) the Tour is huge and you cannot have it bigger and bigger and bigger down the road—it is impossible.”
There is more in the link.
- A Women’s Tour de France (mendocino04.wordpress.com)
- Harman calls for women’s cycle Tour (yorkshirepost.co.uk)
Do you want to see a women’s version of the Tour de France? If so, here’s a petition.
For 100 years, the Tour de France has been the pinnacle endurance sports event of the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people. And for 100 years, it has been an exclusively male race (there was a separate Tour Feminin in the 1980s, but it lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship). After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too. While many women’s sports face battles of inequity, road cycling remains one of the worst offenders: fewer race opportunities, no televised coverage, shorter distances, and therefore salary and prize money inequity. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men’s event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender’s race interferes with the other.
There’s more in the petition link.