On the cancellation of the 2013 Tour of Languedoc Roussillon

Today was meant to be the start of the 6-stage Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon.  This should be a UCI 2.2 race, and was billed at the beginning of the return of the Tour de l’Aude, which when it as cancelled in 2011, was one of only three women’s races allowed over a week by the UCI.

The race has a dodgy history.  Last year it was cancelled just two weeks before it was due to start, but the organisers have been telling everyone it was due to go ahead this year….  until yesterday, when riders had arrived, or were in the air/on the road, when they were told it was cancelled.  Then they were told to stick around because it *might* go ahead, or might be a shortened race….  it’s completely ridiculous.  Yes, of course it’s hard to organise races, but it shows no respect at all to the riders and teams not to give them some warning, before they book travel, let alone before they arrive.

This is very important because the women’s teams don’t have enough cash to be wasting money on getting to the bottom of France, only to have to pay to go home again.  And it’s key preparation for the only Grand Tour left, the Giro Rosa, and there aren’t other races to swap to.  But it’s also important because of what it says about women’s cycling – and how the UCI and cycling media sees it.  If you looked on the UCI’s website, or on Cyclingnews, Velonation or Velonews right now, you’d find nothing about this – it’s not news.  This is crazy!  There are so many questions raised – like, what are the UCI going to do about the women’s calendar?  Why do they give UCI rankings to races like this and the Exergy Tour, that are cancelled after the season starts, when there have been very clear signs that the organisations are in trouble?  And yes, why will the news outlets go crazy about Wiggins talking about “riding like a girl” but won’t even mention that women are being prevented from riding?


For updates, the always-excellent CJ Farqharson is adding news to her article on womenscycling.net as she finds it, and check out Le Blog de Gwéna, who knows everything about French women’s cycling.  And the women’s peloton has a lot to say about this, as you can imagine – check out my twitter list, or the #Languedoc hashtag (not exclusive to this issue, of course).  There’s a great blog by Dutch superstar Annemiek van Vleuten about it (that’s Dutch, here’s the google translate) and via her twitter.  Other accounts to have a look at are Martine Bras‘ and Marijn de Vries‘, they’re eloquent as usual.



While it’s going ahead, Rabobank-Liv/Giant, the biggest team there, have pulled out in protest.

Here’s Rabo’s official statement – and here’s the google translated version

I don’t blame teams who stayed, they’ve already spent their travel money, and need the racing miles.  But I’m very happy Rabo made this huge, public statement about what the women’s peloton deserves.  Here’s comment from Iris Slappendel:

UPDATE: Boels-Dolmans have left too

MORE!  World Champion Marianne Vos is racing MTB this weekend, but she’s supporting her team-mates all the way – and here’s hoping this makes the media take notice….

YAY VELONATION!  The lovely Ben Atkins tracked down some DSs for comment on the whole issue, and you can read his report right here.  Please click through & show that people DO think this is news….  Still nothing from the other big sites, which I’m really disappointed about.


And there’s a race twitter (thanks Saul!) – they’re mostly RTing UrbanBikeMontpellier – so follow them directly!

This made me smile a lot – the riders who did stay started the race with a sit-down protest – photo courtesy of Marijn, of course!

Check back for more information as it comes


20 thoughts on “On the cancellation of the 2013 Tour of Languedoc Roussillon

  1. i noticed this as well that there is no discussion at all about the cancellation on the mainstream cycling websites. For all the big talk of getting women’s cycling up to par with men’s cycling there is preciously little being done from within the men’s camp to promote and support the women’s side. Journalists need to start making a fuss and supporters need to demand news about women’s cycling on the sites to start the ball rolling. I will be sending a mail to the editor of velonews to complain. If lots of us do maybe we can get some recognition for women’s cycling. Something it justly deserves..

    • Absolutely! I tweeted the big sites earlier to comment on them not mentioning it. I do know Velonation are preparing an article about it (and chasing the UCI for comment, which I hope they get) but I can’t believe the news is coming from the excellent CJ Farquharson and riders on twitter – and fans – rather than from the “news” sites

  2. You forget that as far as women’s cycling goes you are the main “news” site. You do a far better job than anyone else I can find on the web. Please keep it up and many thanks. As for the cancellation it is totally disrespectful to expect teams and riders to pay out expenses to turn up and not have a properly organised a race for them to compete in. Very sad.

    • Thankyou for the kind words! We’ve got a list of sites we follow for great news down the left-hand side – there’s some great stuff out there, like WomensCycling, and journalists like Ben Atkins on Velonation who do fantastic work… I know Ben is writing something about this, and chasing the UCI and organisers for comments, but I am really saddened that this isn’t being talked about in the cycling media.

      It seems as though the riders aren’t being looked after there, either – Annemiek van Vleuten’s blog, which I linked to at the bottom of this, talks about the bad food, and I can’t work out how to link to it, but there’s a photo of the breakfast they were provided, on the Rabo site – a small roll, a portion of jam and a little coffee. And they’re supposed to race on that? Ridiculous! Teams shouldn’t have to be buying their own food at a race on top of getting there etc! Madness!

  3. Good grief, that looks like a Travelodge breakfast. I made the mistake of ordering one once, never again! I am aware of the sites you mention, especially WomensCycling, it’s just you collate all the links in one place making it easy to keep track of. I don’t know how you find the time.

    • I combine obsessiveness with fast typing and insomnia! 😉 But seriously, thanks again for the very kind words, it always makes me happy that people find this useful!

      I can’t imagine walking to work on that tiny breakfast, let alone race!

    • I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one of the riders set that up! I always remember Vicki Whitelaw telling me how she and a group of riders asked one of the French races if they could set up a site and run it because they thought it was really important people knew about the race. The race said no.

      • I know. Some races bring it on themselves. At this point, I think that if the choice is bad races, like Languedoc and AToC, or fewer races, but that are professional, I’ll choose fewer. When I rule the world, races will have to have a website with basic info, if they want UCI status

  4. It is disgraceful how you all have been treated – I’m absolutely appalled and my heart goes out to you all. After all the training and expense you guys have put into this and this is the result – it sucks! I’ve lived in france for 10 years now and the french can’t organise a p**** up in a brewery! We would love to replace the UCI but don’t have the wearwithall to do this – but we are starting up a website http://www.frenchcyclingadventures.com to offer training (not races) in our region – le Gers (sw france) – which is quiet and peaceful and the locals do respect cyclists. I am english and my organisational skills are fantastic compared to the french! I don’t normally blow my own trumpet but I am very upset for you all and wish I could help in restoring you faith in cycling in the south of france which isn’t all bad!

  5. Shame on the UCI for giving that “race” a 2.1-designation without a thorough background-check (if one wasn’t ever executed) into that race “organization” (and I mean “organization” in name only). As Vos tweeted yesterday, the UCI needs to get their asses in gear and investigate this.

    I fear, though, it may be more of “business-as-usual” in Aigle, and if the UCI good-ole-boy club re-elects McQuack later this year, I think a proverbial “sharpening of pitchforks” may be in order…

    • I’ve said this before, but we need to storm Aigle and install Vos as president, whether she likes it or not! After all, she’s raced road, track, CX and now XCO at elite level – and damn, she’s intelligent and passionate, loving cycling and hating doping!

  6. Perhaps there needs to be a concerted and coordinated response (from women’s cycling) to the PMQ opinion piece about the stakeholders survey? I only scanned it recently myself, but there doesn’t seem to be any major concern or sense of urgency in the general comments about the deplorable status of pro cycling faced by the female peloton. Surely there are at least a few hundred voices in the ranks which, if banded together, might be heard in some way? (I had no idea – based on my regular review of Cycling News reports – that the TLR was even being run, let alone cancelled and then run after all – with a depleted field. A Google search yielded mainly French-language YouTube updates, but certainly nothing on the organisational debacle – except on your excellent site. I really think PMQ should revise his electioneering statements somewhat, along the lines of, “We’ve done great things for cycling in the past 4 years. Well, good things. Well, things that were obvious, anyway. For half of the population (the male half) at least. Vote Pat!”

    • Ha, I like your electioneering on behalf of Mr McQuaid!

      You’re right to be appalled by the complete lack of media coverage. It’s one of the most circular chicken-and-egg arguments in cycling. The organisations in question swear up and down that nobody reads coverage of women’s racing and readers reply with “what coverage, what have you got for us to read?” and everyone just loses.

      But it’s why I’m fascinated by the development of social media audiences and team blogs/media strategies etc. Because at the end of the day, the established players are only shooting themselves in the foot while the fans and the riders find ways to cut them out and connect with each other anyway.

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