July 19, 2013 (Paris, France) – As the world’s top men’s cyclists battle it out during the100th edition of the Tour de France, the women want in. A petition is now circulating asking for the 2014 edition of the TdF to include a women’s race run separately over the same distances. Among those supporting this call are Emma Pooley (GBR) Bigla Cycling Team and Marianne Vos (NED) DSB-Ballast Nedam. Joining them are Kathryn Bertine (SKN) a National champion cyclist and film maker; as well as Chrissie Wellington (GBR) World Ironman Triathlon champion. Pedal attempted to reach double-Canadian champion, Joelle Numainville (Optum) for comment, but did not hear back by press time.
“For 100 years, the Tour de France has been the pinnacle endurance sports event of the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people,” reads the petition’s preamble, addressed to TdF director, Christian Prudhomme. “And for 100 years, it has been an exclusively male race (there was a separate Tour Feminin in the 1980s, but it lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship). After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too. While many women’s sports face battles of inequity, road cycling remains one of the worst offenders: fewer race opportunities, no televised coverage, shorter distances, and therefore salary and prize money inequity. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men’s event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender’s race interferes with the other.”
“The women’s road race at the London Olympics was a showcase for how impressive, exciting, and entertaining women’s cycling can be. The Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne hold similar top ranked men’s and women’s races on the same day, with great success. Having a women’s pro field at the Tour de France will also create an equal opportunity to debunk the myths of physical “limitations” placed upon female athletes. In the late 1960s people assumed that women couldn’t run the marathon. 30 years on we can look back and see how erroneous this was. Hopefully 30 years from now, we will see 2014 as the year that opened people’s eyes to true equality in the sport of cycling.”
“If you’d like to see more women’s road racing on television and from the roadside, please sign this petition to call for road cycling to take a major step in the right direction. Help us break down the barriers that unjustly keep female athletes from the same opportunities as men.”
The public is asked to sign the petition to show they agree that:
- Women should have the opportunity to compete at the same cycling events as men.
- Women should be on the starting line of the 101st Tour de France in 2014.
Petition organizers are asking people to sign the petition by July 22. Versions of it are circulating in English, French, and German that Pedal is aware of. Pooley won the 2009 women’s version of the TdF (Grande Boucle Feminine) while Vos finished third.