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Pooley calls La Course by Le Tour de France a great platform for women's cycling

Daniel Benson
February 3, 15:35,
February 3, 14:35
Second Edition Cycling News, Monday, February 3, 2014
Tour de France
The Champs Elysees stage usually turns in front of the Arc de Triomphe and heads back, but in 2013 will go all the way around the traffic circle.

The Champs Elysees stage usually turns in front of the Arc de Triomphe and heads back, but in 2013 will go all the way around the traffic circle.

  • The Champs Elysees stage usually turns in front of the Arc de Triomphe and heads back, but in 2013 will go all the way around the traffic circle.
  • Emma Pooley (Great Britain) was pushed into fourth in the women's race against the clock

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Race to take place in Paris

Emma Pooley has welcomed the news that Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) will organise a women’s one day race that will coincide with the final day of this year’s Tour de France in Paris. The internationally televised event, La Course by Le Tour de France, came as a result of the work carried out by Pooley and her colleagues at Le Tour Entier, who set up a petition to strengthen women’s professional road cycling.

The petition attracted over 97,000 signatures in the second half of 2013 and in December ASO began discussions with Le Tour Entier.

“They had come to us because of the petition but this is an incredibly quick turn around,” Pooley told Cyclingnews from her training base in Perth, Australia.

The one-day race will take in the finishing circuit used by the men’s Tour de France, with a finish line sprint on the Champs-Elysées. It is hoped that the iconic backdrop will bolster women’s sport.

“I think it’s absolutely fantastic because it will be such a great platform for people to see women’s cycling,” Pooley said.

“I hope that it’s the start of bigger things but it’s going to be a great race in its own right because women’s races are often interesting to watch and this will be great in that people will get the chance to watch us race.”

“I think that there are people out that want to see women’s road racing but it’s just hard to find at the moment. The main thing about the petition is that it showed that people wanted to watch it.”

ASO currently organise the women’s Tour of Qatar and Fleche Wallone, events in their own rights, but Pooley, who said she was grateful for ASO's work, added that without the support of the petitioners ASO would not have been moved to plan for their Paris-based race.

“If there’s one thing that I want to say, it’s a big thank you to those that signed the petition. I’ve had a few questions from people asking about how things were developing and it was hard because we don’t have contact details for everyone but this race is partly a testament to the great response we had and those people that signed the petition.”

The race will mark what Pooley hopes is an initial but crucial step in the development of women’s cycling.

“If the public response is good, and I hope it will be, then I hope that this becomes a commercially viable race that’s sustainable. Our campaign called for a three-week Tour like the men’s and obviously that’s what I’d love to see but I know it’s not going to happen next year. The point is that this can help women’s cycling grown, that it can become a commercially viable sport. That’s not going to happen overnight, but if this race goes well then maybe ASO will put it on the year after, or make it longer. I’m not going to march around demanding it but this is essentially a brilliant showcase and a brilliant start.”

While ASO will organise the race, Pooley also praised the work of Brian Cookson and the UCI, who stepped up and sanctioned the race. As part of his manifesto in the UCI presidential election in 2013, Cookson pledged to improve the women’s side of the sport.

“To sanction a race without much warning isn’t easy when it’s already the end of January. I know he’s very supportive of trying to support women’s cycling and played a positive role.”

TheBean 6 months ago
Cool! 97,000 petitions is a lot. If everyone who signed the petition donates a single dollar to the purse, then there should be a good pay day for the women. More prize money would be a great thing for women's racing.
reubenr 6 months ago
These are the kind of incentives or rewards that some one like Ms. Pooley is so deserving and can recognize so much better than any one else. A long time cyclist that helped to bring women's cycling to the fore, but will never be truly rewarded for her yeowoman's work. Not that she has to be, since she seems to know more about the love of the sport than most. It makes her a great spokes person. It's not about the money. Oh! It is?
wrinklyvet 6 months ago
I don't see in this report anything that suggests it's about the money. What am I missing? Emma Pooley is indeed a respected sportswoman and if you genuinely mean that bit I agree with you. Well done Le Tour Entier and Pooley! Thanks also to ASO for agreeing to this!
reubenr 6 months ago
It's 1984, and you should learn how to read between the lines. If you think this is for FREE, you, personally, are missing a lot. And if you do not think that this "respected sports person is being given a pay day" then you should get back out on your bike and take a few waves to the crowd. Does that make her less than a respected sports lady? Hell, No! She raced for peanuts. She just gave her all in the "I was too early times." Get a gear.
wrinklyvet 6 months ago
Where are you going with this. Of course the women need a pay day. Of course I don't think it is for free. They have certainly raced for little reward. But what do you mean by "It's not about the money. Oh! It is?" Do try not to sound so offensive. I am likely to be on my bike at least as much as you and if I don't understand the nuances of your cryptic remarks is that my fault? In your previous comment you made it sound like wanting the money was somehow discreditable.
TheBean 6 months ago
Reubner has me completely confused as well, Wrinkly. I think he really lost me when he said it's 1984, but it's really 2014. Then he goes on to say something about reading between lines.
wrinklyvet 6 months ago
Thank you TheBean. My job involved the use of words since the late 1960s and I have heard of Orwell and his works of course, but none of that helped me (on even a second reading) to know why it seems reubnr is taking a pot shot at Dr Emma Pooley.
reubenr 6 months ago
“If the public response is good, and I hope it will be, then I hope that this becomes a commercially viable race that’s sustainable. Sounds like it's about the money, to me, and to the ASO, for sure.
TheBean 6 months ago
The ASO is a private company that is in business to make a profit. If the ASO were not concerned about profit - or at least breaking even - then they would no longer be able to pay their employees. Without employees, the ASO would cease to be able to function and would ultimately dissolve. So, you're right, the ASO is concerned about money.
kurti_sc 6 months ago
growing this would be great. Make it like a handoff from the men to the women. There is already talk about reducing the grand tours length by a few days or a week to reduce the draw to PEDs. This week could best be filled by giving us a week of woman's racing right behind it. That would be good tv.
cshurt 6 months ago
Along these lines I wonder if anyone has ever considered running a women's race on the rest day of the Grand Tours. You would already have a captive audience both on site and in the media world. Not saying it's a long term solution, but it would be a way to leverage existing resources and venues
TheBean 6 months ago
CS, that has been discussed. There was a great thread about women's racing last year. Many options were discussed, including the race on the Champes. For the women to race on a rest day, their race would require extending road closures. Road closures are very expensive (police, emergency vehicles, course marshals, etc.). The current format is the perfect first step, IMO. The Champes will already be closed, grandstands in place, audience tuned in on a weekend, huge crowds present, and it is one of cycling's largest and most iconic venues. Seeing women racing in the shadow of the Arch is a photographer's and publicist's dream.
70kmph 6 months ago
One small step for a woman, one giant leap for womankind
TheBean 6 months ago
Now, the real work begins. Sponsorship dollars drive our sport. So, for the woman's events to grow, people interested in making it grow have to pound the pavement and drum up more and more financial supporters. Congrats to Pooley for getting their foot in the door - a job well done. The best way to expand opportunities is by making the race profitable for ASO. I promoted races for several years back in the 1990's. Courting sponsors is time-consuming and can test the spirit. For a women's event, I see opportunities for sponsorship for many sport-related businesses that cater primarily, or exclusively, to women. Curves Fitness Centers, Title IX Sports, Luna Bars, and Women's Health magazine to name a few. If the race generates a profit then women's cycling will see more such events. If it does not generate a profit then it will be a huge blow towards more progress. I'm hopeful that they have hired the right marketing group and that many petitioners will also contribute in the effort.
PCM Geek 6 months ago
Just wondering. Where is "a profit" that you speak of going to come from? I'm assuming it will come from advertisers paying to put an ad on television? Or maybe the "sponsors" that you have mentioned will pay to put their name and logo and a billboard or in the race media / printed media that is generated because of the race? Are additional or new "sponsors" going to come forward or be found to provide this additional "profit"? I have my doubts that new sponsors will come forward to support this mainly because of past history where womens races aren't really very profitable. So after saying all of that, I tend to think that this womens race is just an add on or an additional feature that ASO has decided to promote because of the submission of so many names on this petition. I'm also thinking that they either do not expect any extra "profit" or they might even expect it to produce a negative cash return or in other words a loss. I really hope this works out because women's racing deserves to be on a bigger world stage, but I highly doubt it will produce much "profit" that you seem to be so interested in...
TheBean 6 months ago
If women's racing is going to grow, it will be as a successful business venture and not as a charity.
Raoul Duke 6 months ago
Going to be a real battle, everyone will want to win on the Champs-Elysées