(Reuters) – The International Cycling Union (UCI) is hopeful it can convince Tour de France organisers to hold a women’s equivalent that will boost the sport, its president David Lappartient has said.
Women riders currently participate in La Course, a one-day competition during the Tour and this year’s edition is a 121-km circuit race around Pau in southwestern France before the men begin stage 13 on Friday.
Frenchman Lappartient said that he had held discussions with organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to increase the event to 10 stages in future and match the ongoing Giro Rosa, one of the main races in women’s road cycling.
“What’s missing in our sport is a big stage race for women that can be seen worldwide. The Tour de France can really help with this,” Lappartient told BBC Radio 5 Live (https://www.bbc.com/sport/cycling/49024713).
The 46-year-old said he would continue fighting for a women’s Tour and hoped ASO would overcome logistical hurdles that prevent a longer race during the men’s race.
“One day of racing is clearly not enough for women … if we want a women’s Tour de France, we can,” Lappartient added.
“For women’s cycling we can continue to push — I’ve had strong discussions with (ASO) and I hope we can reach an agreement for the future.”
British cyclist Sarah Storey said La Course, which was introduced in 2014, felt like a “token gesture”.
“I imagined the race might grow … until it became a fully-fledged women’s Tour. It’s fair to say that’s not happened,” she wrote in a column for The Telegraph (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/cycling/2019/07/18/la-course-feels-like-token-gesture-faras-ever-having-proper).
“Don’t get me wrong. It’s better to have any race than no race. But when you look at Friday’s offering and place it side by side with the men’s Tour … it feels like a token gesture.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)