When former World Time Trial champion Emma Pooley, Dutch cycling superstar Marianne Vos and four-time Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington launch their campaign last year for the return of a women’s Tour de France they clearly hit a nerve. The campaign saw rapid support and the number of signatures on their petition to ASO (Amaury Sports Organization – owner/operators of the TdF) quickly outstripped expectation, with the number now standing at over 97,000. In part due to that pressure it has now been announced that the inaugural La Course by le Tour de France will take place in Paris on the same day as the final stage of the TdF (July 27) with elite women cyclists racing a city circuit and a sprint-finish on the Champs-Elysées.
Brian Cookson, president of the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) has welcomed the move, saying, ‘I am delighted to see this exciting development for women’s cycling. The UCI is committed to support the development of women’s cycling, and following my election to the UCI Presidency in 2013 we established a Women’s Commission to focus our efforts here. The quality of professional women’s road racing has long deserved a wider audience, and we are very happy that this initiative by A.S.O. will bring the sport to many fans, new and old.’
Commenting on the launch of the La Course by le Tour de France – which organisers are describing as an event ‘…destined to become an iconic race in the women’s calendar,’ – Vos added, ‘I am very excited to be taking part, especially with the majestic finish on the Champs-Elysées. The launch of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport. The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I have no doubt that La Course by Le Tour identifies a new era for women’s cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing.’