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Tour de France organisers say they are looking to launch major women's race

Why has it taken so long? And why isn't there one already? ...

Tour de France organisers are apparently looking into launching a major women's race which "would be to women's cycling what the Tour de France is to men's cycling.” 

According to Eurosport, An Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) official said that ASO was setting up a group dedicated to developing women's cycling.

In addition to the Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne classics, ASO also organises La Course by Le Tour, a race held the same day as a Tour de France stage, every year since 2014.

After organising the event over two days - a mountain stage followed by a time trial - in 2017, ASO has since reverted to a single-day race.

"We are setting up a cell to develop women's cycling within ASO," the ASO official, who declined to be named, told Reuters.

"We cannot have a women's Tour de France at the same moment as the men's Tour because it would be logistically impossible. 

“The Tour has grown so much and is so big that having two races at the same time would not be feasible."

Writing in the Telegraph on Thursday, Dame Sarah Storey disagreed: “No one is saying it’s easy. Logistically holding both a men’s and a women’s Tour at the same time is a real conundrum. Do you run the stages on the same day? Over the same route?”

“I think you can. To me it makes sense to use the same infrastructure; the fact that everything - every village, every road - is already shut down for the entire day. Everything is already in place.”

“When you look at Friday’s offering and place it side by side with the men’s Tour it has to be said it feels like a token gesture.” 

“What is clear - and Friday’s La Course proves it - is that we still have a long way to go. And that ASO could do more to help.”

 

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21 comments

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srchar | 5 years ago
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I'm not much of a football fan - I did actually try to follow the women's football world cup, but found it just as tedious as the men's  1

Of course, there are some sports where men and women compete against eachother all the time (equestrianism springs to mind) and also quite a few endurance sports where a woman can outperform a man if the competition allows them to compete together (see Lael Wilcox).  I've often wondered why "skill" sports (as opposed to those that reward strength/explosiveness/power) such as darts and snooker haven't yet seen women compete professionally against men.

Many people watch sport because they want to see a spectacle. A six lofted out of the ground, a conversion from the touchline sailing between the posts, a 350 yard drive. Such feats require strength and explosiveness at a level only posessed by a very few people - and they're almost all men. That doesn't mean that women's sport is inherently "worse" or less enjoyable than men's sport, but it does mean that it's not worth as much, commercially.

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RobD | 5 years ago
1 like

You'd think more of the bike brands would be interested in trying to support/fund women's racing, after all, women's cycling is growing much more than mens cycling (I get that it's starting from a much smaller point) and being one of the brands that women associate with it can only be a good thing. Looking at some of the brands who market to womens fitness/gym going etc and how it's now fairly tricky for new brands to establish themselves into this space without a huge marketing effort would surely make you think about getting in on the ground floor?

If the ASO can't/wont do it, there must be other organisations willing to follow the lead of the women's tour etc? ASO don't own exclusive rights to holding a bike race in France or calling it a tour do they?

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srchar | 5 years ago
1 like

So the story here is that the ASO, having decades of experience of organising the TdF, feel that running a parallel women's event is logistically impossible, but someone who has never organised a large scale sporting event disagrees, based on nothing but gut instinct.

I don't know the answer to increasing interest in women's sport, which is generally lower than interest in men's sport for both sexes, but it doesn't seem to be a "build it and they will come" scenario, nor due to mysogyny (unless we are going to call the millions of women who prefer to watch men's sport mysogynists).

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brooksby replied to srchar | 5 years ago
1 like

srchar wrote:

I don't know the answer to increasing interest in women's sport, which is generally lower than interest in men's sport for both sexes, but it doesn't seem to be a "build it and they will come" scenario, nor due to mysogyny (unless we are going to call the millions of women who prefer to watch men's sport mysogynists).

I've been watching the womens' world cup (football) and the netball world cup this summer, with my daughter.  The womens' football was - IMO! - much more entertaining and better to watch than the mens' world cup was (which my daughter also made me watch).  I found the netball hard to follow, as its such a small court and so fast.  My point is, that the womens' sport is just as good if not in some cases better than the mens'.  The only reason it doesn't get the viewing figures is because its on at odd times, if at all, and then the TV channels complain nobody's watching it because its on at odd times, and since nobody's watching it they don't have to put it on at more civilised times...  (sorry, that sentence kind of got away from me).

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Awavey | 5 years ago
7 likes

Orla Chennaoui has a good take on this, rather than worry so much about what races the women dont have currently, lets celebrate and make more of the races we do have, like the Womens Tour or the Giro Rosa, had as many words been written about those races, in reports,previews, daily stage updates as had been written on why there isnt a TdF for women, then I think overall we'd be in a much better place.

The womens tour of Scotland takes place in 3weeks, brand new 3 day race, it would be nice to think all those complaining and writing about the lack of womens cycling, got off their proverbial backsides went and supported it and wrote articles about that instead, but I wont be holding my breath expecting it to happen, and that is the real issue.

 

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cyclingbrit11 replied to Awavey | 4 years ago
3 likes

Awavey wrote:

Orla Chennaoui has a good take on this, rather than worry so much about what races the women dont have currently, lets celebrate and make more of the races we do have, like the Womens Tour or the Giro Rosa, had as many words been written about those races, in reports,previews, daily stage updates as had been written on why there isnt a TdF for women, then I think overall we'd be in a much better place.

The womens tour of Scotland takes place in 3weeks, brand new 3 day race, it would be nice to think all those complaining and writing about the lack of womens cycling, got off their proverbial backsides went and supported it and wrote articles about that instead, but I wont be holding my breath expecting it to happen, and that is the real issue.

 

Couldn't agree with this more.  There are some great women's events that should stand out and grow by themselves without piggybacking on to an existing men's event.  The caveat to this is that they need to be televised more (though I do understand the unique challenges of televising cycling).

In a lot of ways, I like women's cycling more than men's.  The men can't overpower the peloton like Anna van der Breggan, Annemiek van Vleuten, Marianne Vos and co.  Men's racing can make for clinical borefests where you only need to watch the last 3 minutes.  Did you see Marianne Vos take the win at line at the Giro Rosa?  Did you see Annemiek van Vleuten destroy the field in time trial?  Did you see van Vleuten pip van der Breggan in last year's La Course?  Just my opinion though.  Women's cycling has to stand on it's own for the masses.  If the ASO were seeing interest and potential $$$ from the limited women's events, then you can be sure they'd be aggressively trying to grow the segment.  I really don't understand how they can be expected to lose money doing this.

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Sriracha | 5 years ago
1 like

From the Telegraph article (Dame Storey):
"I’m sure I was not alone in hoping that when ASO first introduced La Course by Le Tour back in 2014, it was the start of something big. 

I imagined that the race might grow year on year, expanding from that showpiece, crit-style race around the Champs-Elysees to become a two-day race, then a three-day race, gradually growing in size and prestige until it became a fully-fledged women’s Tour de France. 

It’s fair to say that has not happened."

So why has it not grown? I assume that had the viewing figures multiplied, the prestige (and the money) would have followed and the thing would have grown organically. Maybe not enough people wanted to watch it. That's democracy, I guess?

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Sriracha | 5 years ago
3 likes

How about a mixed doubles on tandems?

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Reedo | 5 years ago
4 likes

No way to fit any coloured children in these white schools. Logistical nightmare.

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Reedo | 5 years ago
4 likes

No way to fit any bike lanes in these busy roads. Logistical nightmare.

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Deeferdonk | 5 years ago
0 likes

_

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Deeferdonk | 5 years ago
0 likes

_

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Deeferdonk | 5 years ago
10 likes

Strong smell of gammon round these parts!

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growingvegtables | 5 years ago
5 likes

+1 for Dame Sarah Storey

 

Oh, and is ASO taking teeniest-tiniest steps to follow Tour de Yorkshire?    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/mar/23/tour-de-yorkshire-organise... ... About bloody time!

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FluffyKittenofT... | 5 years ago
6 likes

Just hold the women's race on the same route at the same time, but going in the opposite direction.

Disclaimer: I don't know much about the TdF*

 

*for 'much' read 'anything at all'.

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Drinfinity | 5 years ago
16 likes

I seem to have taken a wrong turn and ended up in 1956.

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Dingaling | 5 years ago
2 likes

Women use the same type of arguments that unions did years ago: if management invested in new machines they were destroying jobs, if they didn't invest in new machines they were destroying the company. If a woman doesn't get the top job, it's the glass ceiling, if she gets the top job it's the glass cliff i.e. no man wanted it. I've been together with my wife for 51 years, no complaints whatsoever but if I were younger and starting out I think I would have a big problem with "the modern woman". I hear lots of what they want but fuck all about what they want to give. 

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boringbutton replied to Dingaling | 5 years ago
9 likes

More women’s racing is nothing but a good thing for the sport and the representation of women within it.

 

I’m very surprised and saddened at the misogyny in this thread.

 

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Rich_cb | 5 years ago
2 likes

Storey seems to have overlooked the problem of accomodation.

Geraint Thomas posted a picture of his less than salubrious hotel earlier this tour showing how limited the supply of hotel rooms is when Le Tour is in town.

How does Storey plan to accommodate an entire extra peloton and their support staff in towns which already have no room at the inn?

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Rick_Rude | 5 years ago
4 likes

Well why don't some well-heeled women put their hands in their woke pockets and set up their own grand tour series? The simple answer is they know it's not economically viable and will cost them.

Lets look at the NBA vs WNBA as an example of reveue difference- $7.5bn revenue for the men vs somewhere between $30-60m revenue for the women. In 2016 ASO 'only' made £45m profit , with the Critérium du Dauphiné barely breaking even. I'd imagine a women's tour would generate little if anything. 

Since we live in an age where gender is a social construct can't they just all say they are men and join the existing tour?

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FrankH replied to Rick_Rude | 5 years ago
3 likes

Quote:

Why has it taken so long? And why isn't there one already?

Rick_Rude wrote:

Well why don't some well-heeled women put their hands in their woke pockets and set up their own grand tour series?

Quite.

Men don't organise race for women = proof of male misogyny.

Men then decide to organise race for women = more proof of male misogyny.

 

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