Tour de France organisers ASO considering women's Tour

"It’s not likely to happen next year," says ASO boss Jean-Etienne Amaury

by John Stevenson   July 23, 2013  

Emma Pooley in the 2012 Olympic time trial (copyright DCMS)

Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) is examining the possibility of running a women’s Tour de France alongside the men’s race, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The impetus for ASO to examine resurrecting a race it was last involved with in 1989 has come from a petition headed by top riders Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley, Chrissie Wellington and Kathryn Bertine. Their campaign has gathered over 70,000 signatures in 12 days.

Jean-Etienne Amaury, chairman of the family-owned company, told Bloomberg that  executives have discussed the subject as a result of the petition.

A women’s race with the nominal status of ‘women’s Tour de France’ ran from 1984 to 2009, but was only run by ASO (then the Societé du Tour de France) until 1989. The 1984-89 version of the race had shorter stages that used the same finishes as the men’s race, but - if memory serves - the women finished after the men, relegating the event to the status of a little-regarded sideshow.

A separate women’s tour, known as the Le Tour Cycliste Féminin or, after ASO complained of breach of trademark in 1997, as La Grand Boucle Féminine Internationale ran from 1992 to 2009. Emma Pooley was the last winner of that event.

“We need to work out the right economic model, get the media on board and discuss with public authorities about closing the roads,” Amaury told Bloomberg. “All these parameters need to be planned. It’s not likely to happen next year.”

Amaury said ASO hasn’t yet had any contact with the organizers of the petition. He said the previous version of the race in the 1980s failed to garner a “strong following or interest from television.”

Vos, Pooley, Wellington and Bertine would doubtless point out that ‘that was then’. The Olympic women’s road race had a peak audience of 7.6 million showing that there is a TV audience for women’s racing.

Bertine pointed out that triathlon and marathon races manage to accommodate men ad women on the same course, and Pooley believes that this is a key requirement for a women’s Tour,

“The key request from our side is that the men's and women's stages are all run on the same roads, on the same day and with the same stage finish,” Pooley told road.cc. “That is the point about benefiting from the spectators and media that are there to watch the men's race anyway.”

17 user comments

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PLEASE, tell me where everyone is getting this 7.6 million figure from?

I've been researching things for a blog post about this bloody petition and only find official figures of

3.73 million for the womens race
3.64 million for the mens race

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 13:45

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The 7.6 million (peak) figure is from the British Audience Research Bureau. It includes 0.8 million watching on BBC3.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 13:57

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Its BARB I have been using and cannot find the 7.6 million.

I only find those numbers above and then for the TT's (Held on the same day)

I find Mens PEAK. 5.61 million, Avg 4.1 million and 6.2 million watched Wiggo get the Gold presentation,

Women's 1.45 mil Thinking

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 14:03

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Are there collated figures from UCI/IOC?

I mean it is strange just to look at British viewing figures for such international events if you really want to try and gauge how popular something would be.

posted by jstreetley [60 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 14:19

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Gkam84 wrote:
PLEASE, tell me where everyone is getting this 7.6 million figure from?

I've been researching things for a blog post about this bloody petition and only find official figures of

3.73 million for the womens race
3.64 million for the mens race

You'll probably find that the 7.6 million figure includes the estimate of people at the roadside, the number of times since the Games it's been accessed on the BBC iPlayer, the number of people who watched it live on TV (extrapolated to include it being shown on big screens in town centres with 1000 people watching...).

You know what statistics companies are like with presenting data, it'll have been very well massaged!

posted by crazy-legs [475 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 14:41

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crazy-legs wrote:
Gkam84 wrote:
PLEASE, tell me where everyone is getting this 7.6 million figure from?

I've been researching things for a blog post about this bloody petition and only find official figures of

3.73 million for the womens race
3.64 million for the mens race

You'll probably find that the 7.6 million figure includes the estimate of people at the roadside, the number of times since the Games it's been accessed on the BBC iPlayer, the number of people who watched it live on TV (extrapolated to include it being shown on big screens in town centres with 1000 people watching...).

You know what statistics companies are like with presenting data, it'll have been very well massaged!


The peak figures I have been quoting (5.7M Men, 7.6M Women), are the ones BARB gave to the media at the time. They are for BBC1 and BBC3 only.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 15:41

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Cheers Rumpo, did they give peaks out for the TT's aswell?

Also, do you have a link or any documentation from BARB on these peaks that I could use? Wink

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 16:32

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Sorry Gkam, my scources for viewing figures are media articles, usually in The Guardian, that attribute their figures to BARB. The figures The Guardian gave for the Men's Road Race and Time Trial, and the Women's Sprint and Omnium, tally with the figures the UCI gave in their Press release of the 18th of August last year, so I would suggest that BARB's overnight figures are the closest thing to "Official" that we have.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 17:26

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Cheers, I knew about the UCI press one, here http://www.uci.ch/Modules/ENews/ENewsDetails.asp?source=SiteSearch&id=OD...

I think I'll stick to what I can find on BARB as official enough

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 18:19

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I spent 4 very enjoyable (albeit BORING, HOT and SUNBURNT) hours waiting to see Jens go up Semnoz followed by the peloton, but not first without being pelted by *crap* from the Caravane.

I don't think I could manage a total 8 hours waiting to see the girls go by too.

The women need to stop trying to "instantly" create an event by tagging onto the TdF, but create an event they can call their own. Whether it co-insides timing wise with the TdF is not the issue, it's rather creating a Tag-Along event that will be dismissed, doing it a disservice, as it has done in the past.

posted by Hector Ch [52 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 20:36

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Gkam84 wrote:
Cheers, I knew about the UCI press one, here http://www.uci.ch/Modules/ENews/ENewsDetails.asp?source=SiteSearch&id=OD...

I think I'll stick to what I can find on BARB as official enough


Fair enough, but lots of people don't even know that BARB exists, or won't pay to use it, and will go to the UCI's figures (which are themselves from BARB). The 7.6M you asked about is a BARB figure, derived in the same way as the 5.7M the UCI says watched the Men's Road Race.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 20:46

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It would be great if they could double it up on the day, more racing fun to watch. Maybe it would pull in higher viewership numbers combined.

posted by TeamCC [146 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 21:41

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Wow. There is a lot of negativity here - I think it's a great idea.

Two races for the price of one, but I'd set the girls off first. Give them three hours head start to clear the course (not that they'll need it) and let the caravan go off even early. Then you can have a lot of fans building up to the women's race and then men's. I've stood by the roads to watching before, and frankly the more racing the better. Big Grin

posted by Not KOM [79 posts]
23rd July 2013 - 22:16

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Agreed. A bit of a captive audience would be a good thing. If the women's FA cup final was in front of the same audience earlier in the day it would only improve the respect for women's football too.

It's more of a 'why not?' than a 'can't be done.' situation - regardless of the stats.

I'm looking forward to it. There's nothing to fear but fear itself. Unless one's the type of bloke with a fear of women of course... Big Grin

Silly me. You're probably right....

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posted by MercuryOne [1011 posts]
24th July 2013 - 0:17

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I am not against having a female tour de France.

More against having it take priority above all the other races which have stayed loyal to the women's circuit over the years, even through some financial hardships and losing money hand over fist.

Its these races that need to be rewarded first and foremost with the support of the female ranks, get them to a level where we can have them live on TV, highlights shows and out there in the general media, not just dedicated cycling media.

Then and ONLY then, should we all be calling for a female tour de France.

Why should the ASO be the ones to profit, which in all likely hood would see other female races lose out to sponsorship as they all jump ship and back the "biggest" race out there, the TdF.

Instead of seeing it as a great leap forward, I see it as a step backwards. It would take years to rebuild the potential damage caused by just setting up this ONE race.

Can no-one but me see this coming? Thinking

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posted by Gkam84 [8645 posts]
24th July 2013 - 0:45

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Have to disagree I'm afraid. A successful Women's TdF might show RAI that the Giro Rosa was, in terms of advertising revenue, worth showing on TV. More TV coverage means more sponsors for the event itself, enabling more stages, more TV time, and so on.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
24th July 2013 - 9:20

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Bring it on - exciting women's racing. Certainly it would need to tick a few boxes, but I'd love to be able to see the likes of Marianne Vos, Pooley, Armistead, Bronzini, Abbott and others slog it out in the biggest arenas of cycling - just imagine Vos going through Dutch corner on Alpe d'Huez!

Simultaneous racing broadcast would not work imo - too many things happening at the same time (hopefully!) - I'm already shouting at the tv when we're being shown the back of the peloton for no good reason. Also worth bearing in mind that even the most committed cycling fans usually only get away with hogging the TV for so long....a highlights programme dedicated to the women's race, similar to what ITV4 do now would certainly work for me. Dedicated live coverage of a women's stage on the men's rest days - even they can join in watching and cheering on. Short punchy stages where the racing is on from the start, and please no prologues.

Why not add some new techy features to the women's races - bike/helmet cameras, live HR/power data, even a mid stage wheelie competition.

The women's Giro is a week or so long, so no need to necessarily contemplate a 3 week tour.

What's not to like? It would transform women's cycling and certainly attract more female youngsters into the sport.

posted by Metjas [268 posts]
24th July 2013 - 14:05

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