Women's Tour de France campaign gathers pace with the launch of Le Tour Entier website

Nearly 100,000 signatures on a petition to boost women's cycling - starting with the biggest race of all

by Sarah Barth   September 15, 2013  

Le Tour Entier.png

Following on from a high profile campaign, the cyclist Kathryn Bertine has launched a website aimed at setting up a Tour de France for women.

Le Tour Entier, which is also championed by Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos and Chrissie Wellington, bills itself as ‘a campaign to improve women’s cycling, starting with a women’s Tour de France’.

A petition launched on the website Change.org in July, which urges that

  • Women should have the opportunity to compete at the same cycling events as men
  • Women should be on the starting line of the 101st Tour de France in 2014

has reached almost 100,000 signatures, a critical mass of opinion that can no longer be ignored.

The petition states that a Women’s Tour would “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.”

Bertine says that her reason for targeting the Tour over the many other cycling events where women are not represented is simple: exposure.

She says: “Since its inception the Tour de France has been the most prominent endurance sports event in the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people worldwide.

“It is also the most commercially exploited and media saturated race on the cycling calendar. Yet today women don’t even have the chance to toe the line."

She adds: “Establishing a women’s race at the Tour would showcase women’s road cycling to the world; provide a huge boost in publicity and visibility; demonstrate the commercial viability of such an event; provide a model for success that can be replicated by other event organisers/owners and kick-start wider change and reform.

“It would not detract from the men’s race – it would add another dimension.”

Given the infrastructure already in place for the men’s race, she says, it wouldn’t be hard to run another race with a smaller field in conjunction, on the same closed roads, and providing another spectacle for those who turn out to cheer by the roadside.

The Tour Entier manifesto is available to read here, and the campaign's progress can be folloed on Twitter @LeTourEntier and with the hashtag #TDF4women

6 user comments

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About time the Ladies Pro Cycling had a major tour race; and the TDF for females would be fantastic.

Signed the petition!

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
15th September 2013 - 9:04

4 Likes

I think there's a great opportunity here for other cycling nations to step up and offer a three week grand tour. Why does it have to be France, Spain and Italy? Why not UK, Germany & Colombia for example.
The women get their racing, the organisation, dispruption and broadening of appeal is spread.

posted by mybrainthinksim... [24 posts]
15th September 2013 - 10:51

7 Likes

Just as most of the teams refuse to race the highest UCI points race this morning for fear of their safety Sad

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [8902 posts]
15th September 2013 - 14:10

7 Likes

I can appreciate the desire to bring the visibility and commercial viability of women's cycling up to a higher level, and I like the idea of women being given an equal opportunity, but I have a problem getting my head around exactly how you would run a women's Tour de France alongside the men's.

You have three options of when it could be run;
1. Day before
2. Same day
3. Day after

Lets deal with 3 first, and playing Devil's advocate. Who is going to hang around for another day just to see some women race at a slower pace than the men. Bit like watching the 'Best village cricket final' at Lord's after a 5 day Ashes match. Might be more interesting though Wink

Option 1. Better idea in that a lot of the spectators and infrastructure will already be in place and it could take its own form. Gives start and finish venues two bites of the revenue stream. Major concern is availability of media coverage and more importantly safety motorbikes and vehicles, also do the French get all Nimby-like with their road closures?

Option 2. Best option as it provides less inconvenience to the populace while giving them two races in one but there are major logistical problems with having two lots of trucks, cars, motorbikes, helicopters etc. Then there is the question of who goes first. If it's the women, how early would they need to start to ensure they don't get overtaken by the men? What's the relative time/speed difference going to be over 180 - 200Km? Where are the extra safety motorbikes going to come from? I'm sure the Presidential Motorcycle Unit is not large enough to do both effectively. If they run the women's race second and start it after the men's, how much later? You don't want the lantern rouge of the men's being overtaken by the likes of Marianne Vos. It would also mean having to start the men's race earlier which would interfere with their beauty sleep.

I know the women's road race at the Olympics was well attended on the Sunday even though the weather was worse but a few factors could have contributed to that. The TV coverage of the Saturday race was so appalling that people decided to go and see it live. Those that had been out on Saturday had such a good time they decided to do it again. There were less other distractions it being a Sunday and probably lots of other reasons not least because it was the Olympics and was free and won't be seen again in the UK in many people's lifetime.

Did Nightrider 2013 and 2014 for Parkinson's UK. Might just have one last go in 2015.

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posted by jova54 [622 posts]
15th September 2013 - 15:58

4 Likes

@jova 54
The Olympics road race is a great example (although not really sure how 'roadside attendance' is particularly relevant). The men's race was as dull and uninteresting as road racing gets, the women's race was quite the opposite.

posted by toetruck [15 posts]
16th September 2013 - 10:23

4 Likes

It's brilliant this petition is proving so popular, and very exciting for women's cycling. It's [le Tour] something that really stands out for all cyclists and young women taking up the sport should have an equal chance at dreaming and aiming for a goal as huge as the tour, it's that pinpoint in the imagination of every budding cyclist and in this day and age that imagination shouldn't be shot down merely because of gender difference.

I regularly watch women's cycling (when I can bloody find it... there's naff all on youtube!) as much as I watch the mens and there really is no big difference in intensity, it's as exciting and interesting (and sometimes moreso) as the mens - there really is no excuse not to back media coverage of the sport. If you like cycling, it shouldn't matter who's on the bike, it's still cycling.

If this all goes ahead (fingers crossed!) it'll give me a kick up the arse to train way harder anyway! 2014 could be awesome, no MCQuaid, a womens ToB and a womens TdF - epic!

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

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posted by mooleur [542 posts]
18th September 2013 - 12:26

5 Likes