The final day of the Tour de France is being hailed as the biggest showcase for women’s cycling outside of the Olympics. La Course will be shown in 157 countries and will see 120 women race for glory in Paris on 27 July. However, Chris Prudhomme, the tour director, remarked that it would be impractical to host a full women’s stage race, like the men’s three-week race, at the same time.
As there are safety concerns, another race (a couple of hours before the men’s) is the best plan. He also opined that as La Course is set to become an annual event, coinciding with the men’s Tour finale, similar women’s races could also be included at the end of the other Grand Tours, the Vuelta d’Espana and Giro d’Italia. He said the Grand Tours could help give the elite women cyclists the exposure they needed to get sponsors. The world and Olympic champion, Marianne Vos, is also part of a pressure group called La Tour Entier, which campaigns for full women’s race alongside the men’s race. A Tour de France for women was run in guise, but was ended because of funding issues. Vos, who finished third behind British winner Emma Pooley in 2009, was part of a delegation which met with the Tour organisers last September and agreed to La Course. She was happy to race on the Champs Elysees.
There will be 20 professional teams competing, which includes British Olympic medallists, Lizzie Armitstead and Pooley. Vos was also optimistic about the development of this sport for women. The spectators are also positive about women’s cycling.