Women as Athletes, Not Accessories, at Least for a Day

Tour de France 2014: Women Push to Compete in Cycling's Top Event

The New York Times, July 2014

Female cyclists will race at the Tour de France on Sunday for the first time in 25 years, but anyone who thinks women haven’t been key participants in the sport’s top race obviously hasn’t been watching.

They appear prominently on every competition day of the Tour, and those women even make it to the awards podium. Come to think of it, their job is to be on the podium. They are Tour hostesses, crassly called podium girls, and their main tasks include looking pretty, helping riders don the leaders’ jerseys, kissing cheeks and smiling for photos.

Those hostesses probably gave theAmaury Sport Organization, which runs the race, and the International Cycling Union, the sport’s governing body, their fill of women at the Tour. The powers that be would probably have been happy with women as accessories to the athletes, not as athletes themselves.

But along came a group of athletes who couldn’t help shouting that something very wrong was happening in France, and in cycling. Their efforts have ushered 120 women to the starting line of La Course by le Tour de France, a 56-mile race around Paris, hours before the men roll into town for the Tour’s final stage.

It’s a tiny step, given that the women will ride only 2.5 percent of the Tour course, but it’s actually a huge step for a male-dominated sport with a history of sexism


Bertine talks La Course by Tour de France

Universal Sports Network, July 2014


inCycle Video: The story behind La Course by Le Tour de France

Cycling News, August 2014

This year saw the return of the women's peloton to the Champs-Élysées for the historic La Course by Le Tour de France. The one-day race was held on July 27 on the same finishing circuit as the men's Tour de France as the riders covered 89km over 13 laps with world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) claiming the win over Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano).

The catalyst behind the race was Kathryn Bertine who took part in the event with the Wiggle-Hondateam.

"I had an idea about five years ago, back in 2009, that we don't have a women's Tour de France," Bertine told inCycle. "'Why is that? And of course at that point I was new to professional cycling and didn't know too many of the players in the sport so to speak. So I had a business plan drawn up but didn't really have anywhere to go with it because I dint have a name or a voice behind this moment."

With Marianne Vos also backing a women's Tour de France, Bertine's movement gained valuable traction when the multi-discipline world champion added her support.


Cyclists Petition for New ‘Tour de France Feminin’

Public Radio International, August, 2013

Men’s cycling has been scarred by blood doping, leaving Lance Armstrong without his many Tour de France titles. Women’s cycling is trying to take advantage of this time, pushing for women to be allowed in the Tour de France. From 1984 to 1989 women had their own race, alongside the men’s entitled Tour de Feminin. The name was later changed to Grand Boucle.

No race was held between 1990 and 1991 but the race came back in 1992. In 2004 no race was held, but 2005 to 2009 saw shorter races with less stages, and shorter distances.

The 1984 race used the same finish points as the men, but with shorter stages, due to Amaury Sports Organization (the organization who runs the Tour de France) rules. The female leg of the race was eventually cancelled due to low media interest and sponsorship.


Support for 2014 Women’s Tour de France gathers speed as 70,000 people sign petition

The Telegraph, July 2013

More than 70,000 people have now signed a petition for a women’s Tour de France, launched earlier this month by Britain’s former world champion and 2008 Olympic time trial silver medallist Emma Pooley, Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos, US national champion Kathryn Bertine and British ironmen triathlon champion Chrissie Wellington.

A women’s version of the Tour was held in France between 1984 and 2009, but has not been run in recent years, largely due to problems finding sponsors. Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman called today for a women’s race to be held alongside the opening stages of the 2014 Tour de France when the ‘Grand Depart’ comes to the UK next year.


Women’s Tour de France in huge step – Chrissie Wellington

BBC, July 2013

Ironman legend Chrissie Wellington says the prospect of a women’s Tour de France has made “massive progress” after Tour organisers said they were open to the idea.

The Amaury Sport Organisation has confirmed it will discuss the proposal.

“We’re really excited about that. We are excited about the prospect of feeding into the discussions and the process,” Wellington told BBC Sport.

“That’s a huge step forward and it’s massive progress.”


Emma Pooley remains frustrated at women’s low status in cycling

The Guardian, August 2013

The 2008 Olympic silver medallist who is making the case for a female Tour de France has no faith in the men hoping to be president of the UCI.

For a woman who has scaled back her involvement in international cycling this year, Emma Pooley has been pretty active in recent weeks. Since launching a petition during the Tour de France to call for parity for women in the event, along with the world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos, the world triathlon champion, Chrissie Wellington, and the American athlete and writer Kathryn Bertine, the 2008 Olympic silver medallist has found herself at the forefront of the campaign to give women cyclists the calendar, the media coverage and the money they merit.

The petition, for a women’s Tour de France to be run simultaneously with the men’s race – as it was briefly in the 1980s – has garnered more than 80,000 signatures and pushed the issue centre stage, drawing support from many quarters, most notably from Harriet Harman: the Labour deputy leader produced an open letter to the Tour organisers asking that they consider the idea alongside next year’s Grand Départ in Yorkshire.


‘Half the road’: Are women cycling’s second-class citizens?

CNN, July 2013

 — The wheels of change are in motion.

Last week, four top female athletes launched an online petition demanding that the Amaury Sports Organization, which runs the Tour de France, creates a women’s edition of the race.

The petition has garnered 75,000 signatures and has provided the inspiration for a film, ‘Half the Road’ which depicts the “passion, pitfalls and power of women’s professional cycling.”

It is a cause which has sparked a surge of popularity on social media with the petitioners taking on the sport’s governing body — the International Cycling Union — and the ASO, in the fight against what it perceives as sexism.