UCI President David Lappartient has suggested that the ASO is working on adding a women's Paris-Roubaix to the calendar as soon as 2020 in an interview with The Telegraph on Friday. The Frenchman's comments echo statements made to L'Equipe in April, but at that time the idea was part of a dream to have every event to hold races for men and women.
Speaking at the Rouleur Classic event on Friday, Lappartient said he urged ASO to add a women's Paris-Roubaix and then expand La Course by Le Tour de France to as much as 10 days.
"I told them 'you are the leading organisation in the world so you have to take your part of the responsibility to support women's cycling,'" Lappartient said. "We have spoken. I made three points to them. Firstly, that we could maybe have a Paris-Roubaix for ladies. I think they are not only open to this, but they are working on this. Maybe not for next year but the year after.
"Then we spoke of course of the Tour de France for women. I know there are some [logistical] difficulties. They are thinking maybe of a one-week stage race. I would support this. But I told them why not the last 10 days the same stages for men and women? I think three weeks is too long. But 10 days? Maybe not the same starts but the same finishes."
The ASO's La Course for 2019 will be a single stage, leaving behind previous events held on the Champs Elysees or on the high mountain passes for a hilly circuit around Pau, presumably on the same day as the men's Tour de France time trial stage there on July 19. But the date is still currently listed on the UCI calendar for four days after the men on July 23. The ASO insisted to Cyclingnews that the date would be changed to coincide with the Tour stage.
Lappartient has been vocal in his support of the women's peloton, following on from his predecessor Brian Cookson, who established the UCI Women's WorldTour. Lappartient has helped to push forward a minimum wage for women racers in addition to moving toward a two-tiered system of UCI teams for women. Both ideas will hinge on increasing the profile of women's racing, something that events like La Course can provide.
"I know there are logistical issues, TV issues, but maybe sometimes instead of having seven hours of the [men's race] we could have the ladies and then jump to the men?" he suggested.