Mitchelton-Scott owner calls on ASO to set up women's Tour de France

Gerry Ryan, the owner and main financial backer of the Mitchelton-Scott team, has called on Tour de France organisers ASO to set up a women's stage race equivalent.

Ryan, who has ploughed money into an array of sports – including cycling – over several decades, was at the finish of La Course by Le Tour de France last week and watched on as his Mitchelton-Scott women's team animated another exciting edition of the race.

Despite watching his team miss out on the win after Amanda Spratt was caught just before the line by a rampaging Marianne Vos and the rest of the peloton, Ryan was upbeat about the race and how it played out.

That said, La Course is a one-day race and there have been calls for ASO to expand the race for several years. Ryan echoed those sentiments and pointed out that even an increase by a few days would make a major difference to the profile of women's cycling.

"I think that ASO should look at putting one on. It's very entertaining, either watching it on TV or with the great crowds that turned out. I don't know about race length but even two days is better than one and three days is better than two. Even if we could have a five-day tour it just exposes the public to the quality of women's cycling," Ryan told Cyclingnews.

Although there are differences in budget between the men's and women's teams at Mitchelton, Ryan also pointed out that the squad tried to harmonize as one organization as much as possible during the season. He pointed to the sharing of resources as one example.

"There's no division. Annemiek van Vleuten went on the guys' pre-season camp at the start of the year and they were in awe in how she performed. We're all for one," he told Cyclingnews.

"We give the women on our team the same backing and the same equipment. In fact, at the Giro Rosa we brought some of the staff in from the men's side. We cross over and have the support for anything that they want in terms of sports science, physio and coaching. We're here to help.

"I've always backed women's sport. Whether it's cycling but I'm also involved in women's basketball and I've been a great supporter there for over 20 years. I sometimes think that women don't get a fair go but we try and push them up all the time."

The growth of women's cycling should not be reliant on one organizer, or all race organizes for that matter, with several elements and different parties needed to pull together in the same direction. That said, events like La Course provide an excellent platform for the sport and Ryan argued that more of the existing races on the calendar should look at setting up women's races in the future.

"Organisers that put on events should have more races that are for women so that they've got the competition. It's certainly coming and the field today have improved over the last five years and the last three years. If we've got the space where they can perform with more events than we're going to see more talent come through."

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