ASO announces women's race in Paris on day of Tour de France finale

Marianne Vos who has campaigned for equality says event can usher in "a new era" for women's cycling

by Simon_MacMichael   February 2, 2014  

London 2012 Women's Olympic Road Race (copyright Britishcycling.org.uk)

Tour de France organisers ASO have announced that a women’s road race will be held on the streets of Paris on the same day as the final stage of the Tour de France. The event is likely to give the world’s top female riders huge media exposure on what is road cycling’s biggest annual showpiece occasion and has been hailed by world champion Marianne Vos as ushering in “a new era” for women’s cycling.

Vos, together with fellow riders Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine and the triathlete Chrissie Wellington, founded the movement Le Tour Entier last year to call for the re-establishment of a woman’s stage race to take place alongside the Tour de France. A petition launched by the group has attracted more than 97,000 signatures.

Although the one-day race doesn’t meet that demand, ASO’s announcement has been hailed by Wellington as “a giant step forward for women's cycling and one that athletes, teams and the public will undoubtedly support.”

On the petition’s page on the website Change.org, a message from Le Tour Entier says: “We're happy to announce that La Course by Le Tour de France will take place in 2014! While this is not a full three-week race, it is a huge step forward. We now have the opportunity to showcase our talents to the world and grow the sport.”

ASO’s managing director, Yann Le Moenner, said: “Making a contribution to the development of all forms of cycling is a vocation for the Tour de France. This is even more so when it is about supporting a discipline that is clearly on the up and
 has been making its mark in professional sport for many years now.

“As the event par excellence that attracts enormous crowds and TV viewers, the Tour has decided to welcome a women's race during one of its outstanding stages, in an
event that will have maximum exposure. La Course by Le Tour and its champions are invited to conquer ‘planet bicycle'.”

UCI president Brian Cookson, who made the promotion of women’s cycling one of his main manifesto pledges ahead of his election last September, commented: “I am delighted to see this exciting development for women's cycling. The UCI is committed to support the development of women's cycling, and following my election to the UCI Presidency in 2013 we established a Women's Commission to focus our efforts here.

“The quality of professional women's road racing has long deserved a wider audience, and we are very happy that this initiative by ASO will bring the sport to many fans, new and old. Women's racing on the iconic parcours of the Champs-Elysées is a tremendous step forward, and we are pleased to welcome this addition to the UCI calendar.”

Vos, who yesterday won the world cyclo-cross championship for the sixth year in a row, said: “"I am very excited to be taking part, especially with the majestic finish on the Champs-Elysées. The launch of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport.

"The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I have no doubt that La Course by Le Tour identifies a new era for women's cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing."

14 user comments

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But it's only part of the battle. Will they show the event on TV? Ideally live, but at least decent length highlights at a sensible time.

posted by tao24 [38 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 19:23

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Why can't we just have women's teams go round the same course the day before or even earlier in the same day that the men's tour passes through? It seems to work well enough for the Olympics and I can't imagine it'll cost much at all to do.

posted by Nick T [613 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 19:38

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@tao24 Seems very complicated. Will it be on in the morning before the TdF starts? Will it take place while the men are out on the road from Évry heading towards Paris. If the morning, I guess it would be a different case for the French broadcaster who can show it and make the broadcasting rights available - and some other international broadcasters might take that up. In terms of the UK, doesn't ITV4's coverage, given it usually starts at 2 pm, kick off with a brief highlights of the riders at the start with brief clips of the maillot jaune and team sipping champagne before joining the live action just as they hit the outskirts of Paris? If so, I bet they will only show very brief highlights of the women's race to fit in with timing, unless they do several shows through the day.

Seems an interesting idea and no doubt the women pros will love racing up the Champs-Elysées with the feeling that they might finally be getting somewhere with the sport being treated more equally, but it will, sadly, be completely overshadowed by the TdF on the day.

posted by Ghostie [66 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 20:21

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I guess you were replying to my post in which case, why not start in the mornings? I'd imagine a shorter stage for the women's Tour, so how about timing it so the women finish as the men set off - all they do for the first few km's is chat amongst themselves anyway,
That way you have some interest in actually watching the first 2 hours of coverage.

As for any complications, isn't that what the organisers are paid to do? The secret to making these changes last is in designing a new system that incorporates the changes, not shoehorning it into the existing status quo. And it's about time women had an equal foothold.

posted by Nick T [613 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 20:27

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Would be better if they rode several of the mountain stages first, at least that way the girls could get a taste of what it is like to ride onto the famous Champs Elysee knackered after 3 weeks of riding your legs off. But it's a start a welcome start although it's a pity it's been chosen that they start at the end rather than the beginning.

Airzound

posted by Airzound [69 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 20:35

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Quote:
Would be better if they rode several of the mountain stages first, at least that way the girls could get a taste of what it is like to ride onto the famous Champs Elysee knackered after 3 weeks of riding your legs off.

An alternate view could be that, given they won't be exhausted from 3 weeks racing, we will get a really exciting race rather than a procession with a sprint at the end. Women's racing tends to be more explosive anyway because of the shorter stages so it should be fun.

So a really exciting race and then Vos wins.

posted by Matthewjb [52 posts]
2nd February 2014 - 22:08

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Nick T wrote:
I guess you were replying to my post in which case, why not start in the mornings? I'd imagine a shorter stage for the women's Tour, so how about timing it so the women finish as the men set off - all they do for the first few km's is chat amongst themselves anyway,
That way you have some interest in actually watching the first 2 hours of coverage.

As for any complications, isn't that what the organisers are paid to do? The secret to making these changes last is in designing a new system that incorporates the changes, not shoehorning it into the existing status quo. And it's about time women had an equal foothold.

Sorry I hadn't worked out the quote thing at the time. I was replying to Tao24. However, of course, the organisers will have to come up with something to actually encourage broadcasting companies to interrupt their three weeks of coverage of the TdF by also covering live a women's mini race, and, importantly, coinciding with TV schedules. Your idea would probably work better than a morning race much earlier (which I meant) perhaps with the podium presentations also coming straight after the end of the TdF and before the men's, which would make it meaningless to anyone watching if the race hadn't actually been covered. Personally though I think it will be a bit of a sideshow after three weeks of the TdF whatever the organisers do. Still, it's better than nothing and I hope it works and leads, if not to a TdF equivalent, to the return of a major women's stage race in France.

posted by Ghostie [66 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 1:08

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I think there has to be better coverage full stop. Eurosport rarely, if ever, covers women's cycling but even more than that, I live near an annual stage race for women which brings in top teams and I barely know it's happening.

Organisers as well as the UCI need to get onto promoting it more and including it as part of TV packages with the mens races. So the ASO is in a position to force broadcasters to take a package of women's races along with their big races (the Tour, Roubaix, Paris Nice, Fleche etc). That alone would bring more sponsors to the table for the women and increase the sport's profile.

posted by atlaz [148 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 9:11

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Not just Eurosport though, have a look at mags like Procycling, etc. How many women's races do they cover? On this website or bikeradar, how many of the bikes and news is from the women's races?

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posted by mrmo [856 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 9:49

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When they held the National Championships in Glasgow last year I went to watch the women's race that took place before the mens.

The spectator numbers weren't as high but they missed some great racing by the likes of Armistead and the Trott sisters.

Women's racing is just as exciting as men's racing and needs this exposure.

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posted by stenmeister [30 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 10:08

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Bugga,

I said I was not going to go back to Pairs having been there last year. Now the sods not only run the longer route on the Champs, but also late on and now have women racing as well.

Better start saving up!

Without wanting to sound sexist, I do think women's road racing to a point needs to take a step back. The biggest problem with women's road racing is what does it want? Parity, to be able to run as a seperate highlight event, without the publicity of the men's event. Or the publicity that goes with an existing men's event and to play second fiddle. At the moment , sad to say, it can not have both due to logistics, spectators time and cash.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [208 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 10:24

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tao24 wrote:
But it's only part of the battle. Will they show the event on TV? Ideally live, but at least decent length highlights at a sensible time.

William Fotheringham tweeted that he'd asked Prudhomme about tv coverage and he confirmed TV2 and Eurosport

posted by Sim1 [46 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 11:41

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A good idea. I wonder how this is going to be covered on TV. A separate channel, or interruptions during the parade into Paris?

I enjoyed watching the women's race before the London stage of the Tour of Britain. Women's racing needs to stand up on its own feet and it would be nice if decent coverage of events like this made it worthwhile for sponsors to invest more in them.

Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

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posted by jmaccelari [90 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 12:03

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FUCKING YES <3

Merlin Cycles women's race team ~ http://www.merlincycles.com
Manx nerd peddler ~ http://mooleur.blogspot.com

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posted by mooleur [359 posts]
3rd February 2014 - 13:26

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