I was asked this question earlier today, and it really got me thinking. I’m still riding the high of hanging out at the British National Road Championships, and talking to inspiring riders like Emma Pooley (read my post-ITT, pre-Giro interview with her on Podium Café) – and of course last month I was working on the Friends Life Women’s Tour (you can listen to me talk about that here and here, and see all the videos I collected from the race on Podium Café), but I genuinely think we’re on an upwards wave at the moment. The question is always “how do we keep moving in the right direction?” but it’s important to take a moment to be happy about what’s going well.
It’s a big day for women’s cycling, with the Cyclocross Worlds, and a huge announcement from the ASO – this summer, during the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France on 27th July, there’ll be a women’s race on the Champs Elysées, in front of the huge crowds and international tv – “La Course by Le Tour de France”.
This is the first time that women have been able to race Le Tour alongside the men since 1989, and it’s a big deal. It’s also proof that social media campaigns really do work, as this is in response to the Le Tour Entier petition that was set up during the 2013 Tour by Kathryn Bertine, Chrissie Wellington, Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos, calling for a women’s Tour de France. The ASO were not happy at the time, but with Brian Cookson taking over at the UCI and pledging support for women’s cycling – not to mention the huge audiences tuning into the London Olympic road race – it seems like this was something that had to happen.
As to whether it’s going to be a one-off or a step into a full women’s race, well, we’ll have to wait and see – but one thing I know is that the Le Tour Entier team aren’t going to rest on their laurels! I can imagine that the first race will be spectacular, and unlike the Tour of California “women’s invitational time trial”, which really is a side-show, this is a proper race, given 1.1 accreditation by the UCI. And it’s a perfect course for the women, who are more than used to cobbled sprinting. Hopefully we’ll be able to see the sprint heroines like Vos, Kirsten Wild, Giorgia Bronzini, Chloe Hosking and Lizzie Armitstead fight every inch of the way!
For more on La Course, have a look at the Le Tour Entier announcement, and their follow-up piece including quotes from Specialized-lululemon team boss Kristy Scrymgeour. And there’s a report from British Newspaper the Guardian, and doubtless a lot more to come – keep up with it all by following the Le Tour Entier twitter.
UPDATE! Interview with Kathryn Bertine on VeloNation, with quotes from Emma Johansson. I especially liked this, about what fans can do:
Bertine outlines what she believes are the most important things in year one. “Securing media and sponsorship will be the key factors, and of course, the fans of cycling can play an enormous role by supporting this year’s La Course race.
“Click on the links, watch the news programs, talk about the incredible change taking place…this is something we can all do to drive change. If we create the demand, opportunity and business potential for women’s pro cycling the thrive, then ASO will continue to see the value.”
This week didn’t have as much racing as the last few weeks have had but somehow we still managed to fit in the Sparkassen Giro, BMX World Championships, Vallnord MTB World Cup and more before getting into the substantial number of issues, comments, interviews and general things that happened during the week. It’s a long episode, but it’s mostly happy (except for the title which is dedicated to someone rather special)! ( 1:34:10 MIN / 90.41 MB)
Here’s what we talked about this week….
Marianne Vos raced Vallnord XCo and didn’t do so well – but we love her even more for this tweet:
Okay, that was crap… I’ll skip the feeling from today’s race and look at the whole mtb experience this year. Happy I took this challenge!
— Marianne Vos (@marianne_vos) July 27, 2013
We love that she keeps pushing herself and learning – and admitting when things don’t go her way, and finding the good in it.
This week I think Sarah and I might be a bit broken. We definitely go a little crazy and in between talking about Tour de Bretagne, Thüringen Rundfahrt, Limousin, and other cycling stuff we make each other laugh a lot about stupid things. Sorry (not sorry). We round up a bunch of cool things that we saw and do laugh quite a lot. This one’s a classic quickie, just to prove we still can. (47:38 MIN / 45.73 MB)