For decades, cyclists and their fans have climbed for a women’s Tour de France. While there is no shortage of events for female cyclists, they tend to fall short of the kind of European stage race that draws the top competitors in the men’s category. The Tour de France is bigger than the sport itself, with the audience tuning in just to take in the scenery and insightful commentary that lends itself to a history lesson. Few races possess the same kind of energy, glamor and wonder as the Tour de France and, unsurprisingly, female sports stars have fought for a decade to see a sustainable female stage race take place at the sides of the Men’s Tour. Now, it has been confirmed that a women’s edition of the race will take place in 2022, which will closely follow the men’s race.
According to Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme, the women’s race will take place after the men’s round, and more details will be announced in October, when the men’s tour kicks off. Prudhomme said The Guardian, “It will take place next year, for sure. This would have happened this year if it had not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, obviously, and especially if the Tokyo Olympics had not taken place after the [men’s] Tour, so the best drivers may not be available. But the decision has been made. There will be a Tour de France women in 2022 after the [men’s] To visit.”
Currently, details surrounding the event are scarce, with no known route or length for the race. Prudhomme suggested that the race, which is run by Amaury Sport Organization, will have its own identity which is “tied to the past and present of the Tour de France, and – why not? – maybe also the future.
A women’s Tour de France did indeed take place from 1984 to 1989. The idea was to create an event on a par with that faced by men. The three-week tour saw the women take the same routes as their male counterparts, barely shorter to ensure they finished ahead of the male peloton. But as men’s running gained popularity and coverage, becoming a prime-time television spot, women were largely ignored by the media. After two years of a full tour, the organizers then reduced the Tour de France Féminin to just two weeks.
“In my opinion, we have to put aside the idea of parity between men and women. Why? Because there was a reason why this race only lasted six years, and it was a lack of economic balance, ”explains Prudhomme. “What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, that will be put in place and will stand the test of time. This means that the race cannot lose money. “
According to Prudhomme, all the women’s races they organize lose money, suffering a fate similar to that of the Women’s Tour of 1984. This leads him to exclaim: “The challenge is to set up a race that can live 100 years. That’s why we want him to follow the Men’s Tour, so that the majority of channels that broadcast the Men’s Tour will also cover him.
He adds that the field of women is more disparate compared to men who have a high level who integrate the most. “For a male organizer it’s difficult – you need steeper climbs all the time, harder climbs and so on,” says Prudhomme. “To run a women’s race it’s easier, you don’t need 50 really steep climbs, you can be more natural about it. Women’s cycling is much less controlled than men’s. “