In 1989, the last time that an ASO-run women's Tour de France was held, almost the entirety of the current Women’s WorldTour peloton were either too young to remember it or not even born.
Their conception of the Tour de France, a race often seen as the gateway into the cycling world, derived from the men’s edition that began in 1903. Now, for a new generation of children watching the Tour de France, it will be possible for girls, as well as boys, to dream of competing in cycling’s most famous and prestigious race.
“For many years, it has not been possible for girls to watch women racing the Tour de France,” Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio (Team SD Worx) said at the official route presentation, “I think that is the most important thing and hopefully we can set a good example and inspire young girls to become great cyclists one day.”
The varied route unveiled last week offers an opportunity for each aspiring climber, sprinter, puncheur or rouleur to imagine herself racing in the Tour de France, for it contains stages that can be won by each of these riders.
“The route has really exceeded all my expectations,” Moolman-Pasio said.
“I think that the Tour de France Femmes will be a great first edition after many years of no Tour de France for the women. They have really designed the route very well, it is a very balanced route with something for every rider – there’s long stages, flat stages, punchy stages, even gravel, and then two really tough stages at the end with the queen stage on the final day finishing on La Super Planche des Belles Filles.”
Along the way, the Tour de France Femmes will visit several locations steeped in cycling lore, adding to the grandeur and prestige of the occasion.
The first stage begins at the Eiffel Tower and ends on the Champs Élysées on the final day of ther men's race, while iconic climbs such as the Grand Ballon and La Super Planche des Belles Filles will also be tackled.
New locations also feature on the route, such as the gravel roads that traverse the rolling Champagne landscape.
For a rider as versatile as Moolman-Pasio the route offers multiple chances to become a protagonist in the race.
“It’s something I’m really excited for,” she said. “Of course, I now have a lot of motivation to plan and to prepare for the Tour de France Femmes and I think it’s a very important day in women’s cycling.”
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Issy Ronald has just graduated from the London School of Economics where she studied for an undergraduate and masters degree in History and International Relations. Since doing an internship at Procycling magazine, she has written reports for races like the Tour of Britain, Bretagne Classic and World Championships, as well as news items, recaps of the general classification at the Grand Tours and some features for Cyclingnews. Away from cycling, she enjoys reading, attempting to bake, going to the theatre and watching a probably unhealthy amount of live sport.
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