So as we celebrate the epic nature of this year’s Tour de France, we look with anticipation towards getting double the action next season! Of course, the riders are thrilled, and everyone in the industry should be excited about getting twice the coverage for the iconic event of their sport—but what does this news mean for the average cycling enthusiast? While we’re all caught up in Grande Boucle mania, we thought we’d share some reactions from the community about what it will mean to have a women’s Tour de France.
📢 WOMEN'S TOUR DE FRANCE! 📢
The ASO is launching a new women's race, the "Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift," in 2022, with 8 stages and live TV broadcast.
— Voxwomen (@Voxwomen) June 17, 2021
“Women can now take part in the flagship Tour de France cycling event, which will inspire a new generation of girls to take up the sport.”
Nicola Miller is a self-described “orienteer-turned duathlete.” She won the 2018 European duathlete Championships—so her bike is a pretty integral part of her day-to-day. Like many others, she also turned to Zwift during the pandemic, and as a single working mum with three children and two dogs, she credits cycling with keeping her sane. In addition to her own athletic accomplishments, though, Nicola is also the number one fan and supporter of her daughter’s cycling pursuits. Recently picked up to ride for Avid and very involved in Zwift Premier League, Nicola’s daughter Tammy was a natural on the bike from day one. As she supports her daughter’s budding career in cycling, Nicola is grateful to see the prominence of women’s cycling increasing. Reflecting on the meaning of a women’s Tour de France, she said:
“A women’s Tour de France is a game-changer for women’s cycling, another win for equality. Well done to the team at Zwift for their sponsorship; their e-racing platform has done a huge amount for women’s e-racing during the pandemic. Women worldwide have been able to race at the highest level online, balancing caring and other responsibilities with an amazing racing program. Thanks to them, women can now participate in the flagship Tour de France cycling event, which will inspire a new generation of girls to take up the sport.”
“I hope it will motivate women to take their cycling to the next level and know they will have their cycling skills taken seriously.”
Marnie Reeves joined her local cycling club during lockdown last year and immediately rediscovered the love of cycling she had as a child. Working for an ambulance service, the cycling club gave her something to focus on aside from the stress and chaos of work, and she’s achieved a lot since joining—including her first 100-mile ride this summer. She credits fellow club members for her progress and sees the value of getting more eyes on professional women’s sports.
Marnie was very excited to see this initiative being reflected at the highest levels of cycling. As she explains, “I was so excited when I heard this news! It is a great step in the right direction to create equal opportunities for women in the sport. I hope it will motivate them to take their cycling to the next level and know they will have their cycling skills taken seriously.”
“I am hopeful that it will help the advancement of women’s equality in places it is sorely lacking.”
After a rather unpleasant cycling trip early into parenthood, Janet Herring decided to give cycling another chance six years ago, at the age of 54. She had recently recovered from treatment, surgery, and chemotherapy when an older colleague suggested they do the Ride the Night cycle challenge in London together. Although she didn’t have a bike at the time, she was intrigued by the challenge and ended up borrowing her daughter’s bike for the event.
Fast forward a few years—she is totally in love with the freedom of cycling and has since completed many 100 mile+ rides. As she describes it, “for me, the bike is freedom, mental well-being, recreation and a way to be fit and spend quality time with my husband and explore the countryside.”
With such a deep emotional connection to cycling, Janet became interested in the treatment of professional women cyclists. After watching Half the Road, a documentary that details how the UCI treats women cyclists, she was heartbroken to see the difficult circumstances many women are forced to navigate in order to pursue their passion. Her reaction to the news of a Tour de France? “Well, AT LAST!” In discussing what this could mean for this future of the sport, Janet is optimistic:
“I am hopeful that it may mean investment in women’s cycling and women’s cycling teams. I am hopeful that young women cyclists will now realise their dreams. I am hopeful that male professional cyclists will champion female cyclists. I am hopeful that it will help the advancement of women’s equality in places it is sorely lacking.”
“Women’s racing deserves to be seen, and even the sceptics can’t deny that more cycling racing coverage can only be a good thing.”
Alec Curry is a British cyclist whose poetic description of the sport he loves will speak to anyone who has found their passion on two wheels. For him, “cycling is a constant. Life changes, people change, but cycling is always cycling. There’s no better way to experience landscapes and leave no pollution behind but sweat. Cycling, for me, is a way of life.” And in addition to spending as much time on his bike as possible, he loves watching stage races and reading about the culture and history of the sport. So when he heard there was going to be a Women’s Tour de France, he thought it was about time: “Women’s racing deserves to be seen, and even the sceptics can’t deny that more cycling racing coverage can only be a good thing.
Female riders have the same hunger for glory as the men, but fewer opportunities to stand on the stage they deserve. And that shows in the races. Long-range attacks, sprint finishes, tactical riding, all are a staple of every stage and every race. I think there is more of a do or die attitude in women’s racing because if you’re not at the front leading the race, you won’t be on camera promoting your team.”
We certainly agree that if the women’s peloton has proven anything, it is that they know how to put on a fierce race! So, as this year’s Tour winds down, we congratulate all the stellar participants and look forward to also cheering on the women in 2022! We will keep you posted as more details about next year’s event are revealed.