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Marianne Vos: I'm like a kid waiting for her birthday, I'm so excited about La Course by Le Tour TODAY

89km race around Paris to be aired in 157 countries - but the women's prize money is less than the men's...

Marianne Vos has said she feels like a child waiting for her birthday ahead of 'La Course by Le Tour', an 89-km ride around Paris for the women’s pro peloton.

Set up by the ASO in response to a petition signed by more than 97,000 people, La Course is the first time women have been able to race as part of the Tour de France since 1989.

"Last year I got a tad grumpy because I was snowed under with hundreds and hundreds of emails, some by the top names in women's cycling saying, 'We want something to happen'," said race director Christian Prudhomme.

"When we met them they spoke about bike racing but also about exposure and media coverage."

As a result there will be full coverage of today’s event at 2pm, being broadcast in 157 countries, and the winner collecting 6,000 Euros, rather less than the 8,000 Euros collected by a man in a Tour stage.

Marianne Vos said: "I'm really enthusiastic about La Course because we will get a lot of media attention,.

"Every year you make a step it's a process. This is really a big step forward," she added. Vos has won a total of 16 world titles on the road, track and in cyclocross.

"The ASO has taken a big step forward. They opened the doors to women cycling," she told Eurosport.

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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