Kathryn Bertine explains how it was all made possible
This year saw the return of the women's peloton to the Champs-Élysées for the historic La Course by Le Tour de France. The one-day race was held on July 27 on the same finishing circuit as the men's Tour de France as the riders covered 89km over 13 laps with world champion Marianne Vos (Rabo-Liv) claiming the win over Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano).
The catalyst behind the race was Kathryn Bertine who took part in the event with the Wiggle-Honda team.
"I had an idea about five years ago, back in 2009, that we don't have a women's Tour de France," Bertine told inCycle. "'Why is that? And of course at that point I was new to professional cycling and didn't know too many of the players in the sport so to speak. So I had a business plan drawn up but didn't really have anywhere to go with it because I dint have a name or a voice behind this moment."
With Marianne Vos also backing a women's Tour de France, Bertine's movement gained valuable traction when the multi-discipline world champion added her support.
"Tour de France has everything and that's what it makes it a big event and big inspiration for all people around the world," she explained. "Women's cycling has role models, has big names and fantastic stories but nobody sees them."
For Bertine there is no need to reinvent the wheel but learn from sports in which male and female athletes have equal visibility, such as tennis, athletics and, especially, triathlon.
"This is a sport where the men and the women don't technically compete against each other, they do compete on the same course, same distance, same day for the same money at roughly the same time," Bertine said of how triathlon gets it right. "So right there that just goes to show that the sport can sustain itself and not to mention it's very successful. The infrastructure of triathlon; it's wealthy, it treats its competitors right and equally, and actually promotes women in sport as something it should be."
Watch the video below to find out more about La Course and what it means for women's cycling and don't forget to subscribe to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel