More on the Women’s Tour de France Petition

Things are moving fast on the calls for women to be able to race the Tour de France.  Right now the petition has got 57,236 signatures, but it’s moving really quickly (and if you haven’t signed it yet, please do) – and Kathryn Bertine, who set up the petition, has started a twitter campaign to ask the Tour organisers if they can meet to discuss it.  You can do that with this handy twitter thingummy, or of course, compose one of your own.  And follow the campaign twitter, @LeTourEntier, for all the campaign news.

Our friend Thomas Warren has written a really good blog about the issue too, taking in Brian Cookson’s campaign for the UCI presidency, the UCI’s rules for women’s races, and much more – I highly recommend you click through and read it.   And if you haven’t already read Dan’s blog about it right here on this site, please do that too, and have conversations with us in the comments.


14 thoughts on “More on the Women’s Tour de France Petition

    • Yeah mate, I referenced it in my bit on the whole thing. I liked a lot of what Kate has to say about it all, especially the need for sustainable business models and steady growth. I think both of these are important strands of the broader conversation about women’s cycling, and I’m really glad these sorts of conversations are starting to be pushed into the mainstream.

  1. So based on the above figures, there is (so far) about 10 times the amount of interest in a women’s TdF that there was in the UCI stakeholder survey. That would seem to be saying something. 🙂

    • Ha, I made that EXACT same comment to Sarah just the other day. 😀 It’s definitely a positive sign. I think the really important thing now is that this groundswell of support not taper off now that there’s some press and attention being drawn to the issue. It’s very easy for people to accept the news reports of ASO “considering” a women’s TdF and forget that we need real action. (That’s not a shot at people in general, just an observation of the major difficulty in sustaining this sort of movement/protest/demonstration/what-have-you over a prolonged period of time). Great first steps and I’m thrilled at the results so far. I hope we go much further from here.

      • Perhaps what’s needed now – in all seriousness – is a “stakeholder survey”, conducted not by the UCI but by people with a vested interest in an unbiased outcome for the good of women’s cycling at a global level. Perhaps if the 4 co-authors could persuade someone to construct such a survey, and invite commentaries from all over the world of (women’s) cycling to present their views on what they’d like to see and how they envisage it happening (okay, so it SHOULD be biased, in order to minimize the impact of trolls and sexists and Neanderthals), a tentative format could be put together and proposed to race organisers – something that might at least lead to a trial of sorts, and that might gain some degree of pre-event publicity. Just a thought. 🙂

      • I really like this idea a lot Craig. I’m going to think a little more about it and see if we might be able to even generate a specialised sort of survey just for teams and managers, then a separate one for riders. I think one of the issues related to women’s cycling is that there are so many different viewpoints and perspectives because there are so many aspects of the sport overall that need change. So I think you’re right about there being a real need for better clarity over what the major perspectives are. Oh, and probably a different survey for race organisers while I’m thinking of stuff to do. 😉

      • I like your thinking (and enthusiasm) too! If there’s something i could do to assist, please don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂

  2. An action plan would be good, but it’s going to have to come from somewhere. Unlikely that those vying for UCI presidency will want to spend much time or energy on it. Unlikely that any part of the UCI (including the road commission) will make it a priority, in fact. Seems to me that somebody with a degree of status, insight and organisational skills (most likely from within the women’s peloton, or at least someone with a strong connection to it) will need to circulate some ideas, generate some feedback, build a preliminary model, submit it back to the women’s peloton for critique/feedback, refine it, and then submit it, as a prototypical action plan, to the UCI, the ASO, and any other stakeholders who may have a role in the decision – with the stipulation that discussions (with the aim of getting the women’s tour up and running) be held at the earliest juncture, and at specific times and places throughout the next 9 months, until such time as an initial model has been accepted as feasible. Somebody just has to DO it (with the support of the 4 co-authors of the original petition). So who’s in charge, and what can WE do to help? 🙂

    • Both the men vying for Presidency have had senior management roles in the UCI for years, it’s absolutely been their job to come up with an action plan. Both are being bank-rolled and supported by staff in their campaigns.

      I completely take your point that the women’s peloton should be involved, but it makes me a bit cross that the women aren’t just responsible for the racing, but are also expected to be developing the sport themselves. What other sport expects this from athletes? What is the point of the UCI if people at the top don’t have time to think aboout how they’re developing the sport?

      This is the UCI’s own mission statement:

      The UCI administers and promotes the development of the eight disciplines of cycling.

      The UCI’s mission is to develop and promote cycling, in close collaboration with National Federations.

      not “except for women, they have to come up with their own development”!

  3. I agree 100%, believe me. And I certainly don’t expect that women should have to take it upon themselves to grow the sport in an equitable manner. I would just hate to see this thing lose its momentum because people were waiting for those in charge to actually do their jobs. And with the current climate, the focus on doping issues, the upcoming election, and the “laissez-faire” attitude that exists out there, I have a feeling that it will take more than their fair share of action by the women involved to actually get something happening. Which is why I’m saying, “What can I do to help? What can WE do to get this happening?” (I’m not a pro female cyclist, by the way! 😉 )

    The petition seems to have gotten the attention of a few people now (such as ASO), and is certainly on the minds of at least 70,000 interested spectators, which is fantastic. But one sure way to lose the limelight would be to leave it in the hands of PMQ or BC. And we have already seen that at least one of the pair (who shall remain nameless) reacts best when an issue has already come to a head, rather than being a champion for the issue himself.

    I certainly sympathise with the position of professional female cyclists. But I also believe that, as a group, they would probably come up with a better plan of action than anybody else (with less of a vested interest) might formulate – and they’d probably do it in the present decade as well! Let’s keep pushing, and let’s not wait for the wheels of governance to grind this initiative into the dirt! (So far, I can only lend my encouragement and enthusiasm. But if there’s something else I can do, just say the word!) 🙂

  4. I think that perhaps a focus group (comprising several top-level current riders, former riders – from when there WAS a Tour Feminin – and team managers), tasked with putting together a draft survey, would be a good idea for a starting point. This draft could then be given to somebody who might turn it into a workable survey with both open- and closed-ended questions, aimed at deriving a general consensus about an “ideal” TdF for women. Then there’s the matter of distributing the survey amongst all current riders in the women’s pro (and continental?) tour, to actually gather the data. It seems to me that the actual workload imposed on any specific rider would be minimal (aside from the initial focus group), and that anybody with a decent level of involvement / insight / clout could keep the process moving. This would at least provide an idea of what most riders would feel comfortable / happy with. Then there’s the matter of a second focus group, tasked with identifying (and proposing solutions for) observable barriers and obstacles. It’s going to be a long process, but with enough involvement, it’s do-able. (And if what’s needed is somebody with almost NO idea – and thus no biases or preconceptions – and no involvement with either the men’s or women’s ranks of pro cycling – then I’m happy to put my hand up!)

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