Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has indicated they are open to a return of a women's Tour de France as a petition campaign fronted by world champion Marianne Vos gains momentum.
Bloomberg reports that the organisation has discussed the possibility of a women's race returning but comments by ASO chairman Jean-Etienne Amaury indicates that such an event was unlikely to occur as soon as 2014 as the petition calls for.
Vos, former world champion Emma Pooley, world champion ironman triathlete Chrissie Wellington and Kathryn Bertine have published a letter to ASO and Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme with an accompanying petition outlining the reasons they believe that women should have an event running in conjunction with the men in what is the most recognisable cycling event in the world.
Tour Féminin, a French grand tour for women, ran from 1984 through 2009 albeit with considerable difficulty and three years where it was disbanded (1990, 1991 and 2004). Among the issues were unpaid prize money, excessively long transfers and stages, scheduling issues, poor sponsorship, and a legal battle with ASO subsidiary Société du Tour de France over its then-name, the Women's Tour de France.
The lobbyist's petition, in operation since July 12, has now attracted the support of close to 70,000 people.
"We need to work out the right economic model, get the media on board and discuss with public authorities about closing the roads," Amaury told Bloomberg. "All these parameters need to be planned. It's not likely to happen next year."
Plans to revive the women's Tour de France have attracted a mixed response. UCI Presidential candidate Brian Cookson said last week that he did not believe that the current plans were "realistic." Cookson was supportive of the concept "but I think it needs to be over modified distances, modified number of days and so on," he said.