Tour De France Organizers Announce Elite Women's Cycling Race La Course
Coinciding with the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France, the elite of women's cycling will come together on July 27 for the first edition of La Course by Le Tour de France. A few hours before the men's peloton arrives in Paris, the world's elite women cyclists will race the circuit in the historic heart of the city before fighting out a final sprint at the finish line on the Champs-Elysées (Le Tour). REUTERS reported some top women riders, including triple world road champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, "have already committed to the race that will lead them down the glamorous avenue where men have ended their three-week race for almost 40 years." Vos: "I am very excited to be taking part, especially with the majestic finish on the Champs Elysées." Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson praised the initiative as a "tremendous step forward" (REUTERS, 2/1). In London, William Fotheringham wrote it will be the first time since '89 "that women cyclists have raced alongside their male counterparts at cycling's most prestigious finish." Tour de France Organizer Christian Prudhomme said, "Back in the autumn a delegation of champion women cyclists came to see us and requested that we create something that would give their sport a real push forward, and that is what will happen on 27 July. The race will be transmitted live on France Television and Eurosport and I would imagine that most of the other Tour rights holders will be interested by it" (GUARDIAN, 2/1). VELO NATION's Shane Stokes wrote Kathryn Bertine, co-founder of women's cycling organization Le Tour Entier, described the announcement "as being an important intermediate step towards a Tour de France race for women." Bertine said, "We see this as a stepping stone toward a women's Tour. This race is a perfect launching pad to build upon in the years to come [as regards a multi-day womens’s Tour de France]. It’s important because female athletes need high profile stages on which to compete, with the associated media coverage and sponsorship, to truly enable them to shine" (VELO NATION, 2/2).