Emma Pooley calls for a women’s Tour de France

Emma Pooley is never afraid to speak her mind, and while she may be having a year away from the top of women’s professional cycling, she’s still talking about it. Today she was on the BBC Radio 4 show, Woman’s Hour, talking about why she’d like to see a women’s Tour de France back on the calendar, and going into a bit of the history about why the previous one disappeared.

She makes some great points, especially about how more racing is better for the spectators, and you can listen to it in two places. The whole programme is archived on the BBC Radio 4 website here – click through to give it some hits!  I don’t know if that’s likely to be geo-restricted, but if it is, BBC journalist Alex Murray has put the Emma section onto his Soundcloud.

While Pooley is calling for a same-length, same-distance race, I’d have a different approach – take the best parts of women’s and men’s racing and combine them to make both races better – for example, reduce the lengths of some of the men’s stages, to invite more attacking, reduce the size of the men’s teams by a rider each. And I’d have more stages where the TdF has looping courses visiting the same towns, so spectators get more out of it. So much to think about!

UPDATE 17/7/13:  There’s a Change.org petition to the ASO, set up by Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos and Chrissie Wellington.  Please head over and sign it – even if you’re not 100% on the idea, it shows the ASO and the world that there’s backing for women’s cycling


8 thoughts on “Emma Pooley calls for a women’s Tour de France

  1. There is no reason why they cannot end up with a 3 week race, but given the range of ability in the peloton, how many teams are ready to get most of their 6 or 7 riders to the end of 3 weeks yet?
    There was only around 20 DNFs from the 150 of the Giro Rosa so it may be fine, but add 13 more stages and it is quite different. With the men about 75-80% make it to Paris, I think there are those out there who would use a significantly lower ratio to argue against the idea of a womens race.

    It could improve quickly if more media increased interest and participation in the sport.

    Yesterdays TdF stage was certainly evidence for why they should be reduced, at least 40km too long.

    • I think it should be back up to 10 stages asap (as it has been previously). From there I think it’d be reasonable to look at adding one or two stages a year, growing it up over 5 or more years.

  2. With all due respect to the women’s tour . . . . I don’t think any good will come from trying to get the men’s tour to accept changes and compromises, in order to accommodate a women’s TdF. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be equality, because there should. But a well-established status quo is a formidable adversary. I think that if some ways can be found to fit a women’s TdF into the existing infrastructure, without causing too much disruption, it will be more readily accepted. I’m also wondering (based on some very good “Q & A” feedback from some of the Aussie riders during the Giro Rosa) what the women’s peloton would like to see, in terms of a women’s TdF. One question I asked them was “How do you feel about the number & length of stages in this year’s Giro?” There wasn’t exactly an overwhelming shout of “Wish it were 3 times longer!” or “Add 50% to each stage!” So perhaps finding out what the average rider in the women’s tour would be prepared to face (in terms of riding a TdF) might be a good starting point? Then everyone would know what, exactly, needs to be tried as a first effort for the initiative.

    • I do think it’d be hard to go from the current state of women’s stage racing to a full three-week Grand Tour, but I also think most riders would be keen to try themselves at a race like that. I do like the shorter stages for women (because I think they make for better racing, nothing to do with women being less tough or any shit like that). I also think that Emma’s interview and the petition are important as an exercise in demonstrating to race organisers, the UCI, broadcasters, teams etc. that there is support for women’s racing and for these sorts of events. It’s a good step in helping to break the chicken-egg cycle of avoiding responsibility between the sport’s governing body, broadcasters and organisers that they can’t take the first step. I think it also helps teams and riders enormously to demonstrate to sponsors that they have a nexus of passionate, supportive and engaged fans interacting directly with them. So I welcome it as another chance to bring the conversation out into the open and force the gatekeepers at different levels to explain and justify why they don’t want to participate in creating sports history.

Leave a Reply to jaysm Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s