Watch La Course by Le Tour de France, live!

On Sunday 27th July it’ll be one of the most talked-about women’s races of the year, and probably the easiest race to watch live since the 2012 Olympic Games – La Course by le Tour de France.

The race is up and down the Champs Elysées, 89km, 13 laps of the 6.85 kilometre course, on the cobbles, with 2 corners at one end:

Velofocus has a race previous with streetview of the route.

It starts at 12:50 French time, CEST (11:50am UK BST; 8:50pm Aus AEST, 6:50am USA EST, 3:50am USA PST) and is due to finish around 2 hours later.  It will be shown live on a huge range of tv stations worldwide – 153 countries covered – and you can find the broadcasters at the bottom of the La Course page – or in this graphic:

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La Course by Le Tour de France – women’s racing on the Champs Elysées this year!

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.”

Le Tour Entier – the manifesto

I’m sure we’ll be talking about this more in our next women’s cycling podcast, but Kathryn Bertine has launched the Le Tour Entier website, which has evolved from the petition asking the ASO to reinstate a women’s Tour de France.

The website has more information about all of that, and their campaign is asking for much more than just a TdF – read the full Le Tour Entier manifesto, which sets out a whole range of changes they’d like to see, from race organisers, the ASO, teams, Federations and more.

There’s a lot to take in, so we’re bound to talk about this over the next few weeks – but do have a look, and tell us what you think.  And if you’d like to help them out, you sign the petition, if you haven’t already, buy limited edition Castelli Le Tour Entier Cycling kit, follow @LeTourEntier on twitter, and tweet them your support

(Dan and I interviewed Kathryn back in June, before she started Le Tour Entier – if you want to hear about her talk about her Half the Road women’s cycling documentary, how she got into cycling and more, listen to that podcast)

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.

Why the petition for a women’s TdF is vitally important

So yesterday on the podcast Sarah and I made mention of the petition that is running now to ask the ASO to commit to a women’s TdF. The petition’s been started by several pro cyclists and Emma Pooley has given a couple of great interviews about it and what they’re trying to achieve.

If you’re still trying to decide whether you should sign the petition or not, let’s talk through some of the things that it is and isn’t for, and what it will and won’t achieve.

My take on the petition from the start has been that it’s a good thing, even though it’s unlikely to achieve all of its aims (it’s asking ASO to institute a fully-equitable women’s race in terms of distance, race days, prize money and coverage in 2014).

Without taking anything away from the ambition at all, I think it’s safe to say that any fan of women’s cycling who’s been around for more than 5 minutes knows that this just won’t happen. But as Pooley herself acknowledges, the petition is about staking out an ideal and working towards it, and this is why the petition is vitally important.

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Podcast 2013 – Episode 22 – We go a little bit crazy

Podcast logoThis 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)

Click here for the craziest story about touring whisky distilleries you’ll hear in the next hour.



Go over here to sign up for life in the iTunes store thingamajig.

Things we talked about this week

We’re really enjoying the Aussie Foxtel Tour de France show, Le Tour Prologue, and especially the fact it features ex-pro-cyclist Bridie O’Donnell. Here’s one of Dr Bridie’s Dissections:

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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 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