Tour De France Director Christian Prudhomme Calls Proposed Women's Version Premature
Tour de France Dir Christian Prudhomme has criticized Labour's deputy leader Harriet Harman for her public proposal for a women's version of the Tour de France, insisting it is "ill-conceived and premature," according to Staniforth & Crooks of the London TELEGRAPH. Harman wrote an "open letter to Prudhomme last week urging him to look into the possibility of staging a women’s event alongside next year’s Grand Depart." Harman's letter "was backed by a 70,000-strong petition" and Prudhomme's response came on the day Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) presidential candidate Brian Cookson confirmed that he was "facilitating a meeting" with Tour owner Amaury Sport Organization "with regard to staging a women's race." Prudhomme accused Harman of "being impractical in her approach, and indicated it may be 'impossible' to simply bolt a women's competition on the side of a race that is already stretched to full capacity." Prudhomme: "It would have been much easier to talk to us directly instead of a petition and [finding out by] opening your mailbox and you don't know what has happened. We are open to everything. Having women's races is very important for me. [But] the Tour is huge and you cannot have it bigger and bigger and bigger down the road -- it is impossible" (TELEGRAPH, 7/26).
COOKING IT UP: The PA reported Harman's letter came as Cookson confirmed he is currently arranging a meeting with ASO about staging a women's race. Cookson -- who is also head of British Cycling -- "appeared more positive about the prospect of a major women's race and announced that a five-day international stage race will be held during next year's Tour of Britain." Cookson said, "It will be the first step in having a full equivalent Tour of Britain as it develops." Cookson also "appeared to distance himself from Harman's specific proposal, urging caution over any attempts simply to 'mimic' the men's Tour." Cookson: "Women's teams that are bolted on to men's teams is not the only answer" (PA, 7/26).