A.S.O announce women’s race at 2014 Tour de France
Amaury Sport Organisation have announced that a women’s race will take place at this year’s Tour de France. “La Course by Le Tour de France” will take place on 27th July on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The event is destined to become an iconic race in the women’s calendar. Further details of the race and its format will be unveiled at an official launch in the spring.
For a number of months Le Tour Entier (LTE), on behalf of women’s cycling, has been working alongside ASO on plans for a women’s race at the Tour de France, beginning in 2014.
The move for a women’s race follows the launch of LTE’s manifesto for women’s cycling in September. This included a campaign for a women’s race at the Tour de France, which has generated over 95,000 online signatures.
One of LTE’s founders and current Olympic and world road champion Marianne Vos stated; “I am thrilled that A.S.O will be launching La Course at this year’s Tour de France and I am very excited to be competing in the event. This announcement marks a significant and groundbreaking moment for our sport. Le Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling and this race is the start of an exciting new time for women’s cycling. To know that A.S.O are so committed to innovating and developing our sport is fantastic. I have no doubt that this race will help change the face of women’s cycling.”
Another LTE founder, four-time world ironman champion Chrissie Wellington added; “For A.S.O to organise a women’s race is like a dream come true and marks the beginning of an exciting new future for women’s cycling and women’s sport more generally. Female athletes need high profile stages on which to compete, with the associated media coverage and sponsorship, to truly enable them to shine. This race will provide that, and give women’s cycling the huge platform it needs to grow and develop, not to mention helping to encourage everyone to get on their bikes and take to the roads and trails on two wheels. It’s been an absolute honour to work with A.S.O, and all the other members of the LTE team, to develop the race and I am beyond excited that all our dreams are becoming a reality!”
The women’s race is a further step towards building a sport with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal. Racing in front of millions to a global television audience is an exciting prospect for pro riders, such as LTE co-founder and Olympic silver medalist Emma Pooley; “It’s wonderful news that A.S.O have launched La Course by Le Tour de France in 2014. As a rider, it’s a great opportunity to be involved with the greatest cycling event in the world and I’m looking forward to the race already.”
Pooley, who is also part of the UCI Women’s commission to improve women’s cycling around the world added; “It’s also a tribute to the many cycling fans who want to see more high-level women’s racing, and who supported us in Le Tour Entier. It’s fantastic that A.S.O have recognised the demand and potential for a fantastic race and are leading the way in a new era of growth in women’s road racing.”
LTE co-founder Kathryn Bertine, three-time national champion of St. Kitts and Nevis, U.S. based pro cyclist and documentary filmmaker of “Half The Road” began the movement for a women’s Tour de France in an effort to bring parity to cycling. The mission, which she started in 2009, has now come full circle; “The arrival of a women’s race at the Tour de France goes far beyond a bike race”, she stated. “It will impact the cycling federations of every nation, paving the way to achieve parity in all countries. In the U.S., we still need women’s fields at the Tour of California, The U.S. Pro Challenge and the Tour of Utah. Now, those barriers will be easier to overcome with Le Tour de France setting an example.”
She added; “It’s also huge for smaller, developing nations. This iconic race has the ability to reach and cross cultural boundaries, showing young women across the world what is possible to achieve with their lives. We are absolutely thrilled A.S.O is innovating more opportunities for women’s cycling and will be at the very forefront of this much needed change.”