As the Tour de France reaches Paris, the women’s peloton pedals into the spotlight

Laurent Fignon Marianne Martin 1984 Tour de France

Sunday 24th July 2022 sees the end of the 2022 Tour de France but before that happens, the start of the 2022 Tour de France Femmes will take place on the Champs Élysées. 144 riders in the women’s peloton will be the first to take place in a women’s stage race that ASO has deigned to give the Tour de France name to since the late 1980s.

It’s been a long time coming, with La Course, a mostly single-day race taking place since 2014 and which also began on the Champs Élysées. The opening stage will be 81.7km around the French capital, taking in the cobbles and gentle uphill slope on the capital’s famous streets.

The 8 stages will cover a total of 1033km, only 25km short of the original race in 1984 which lasted for 18 days.

The Tour de France Femmes preview by ProCyclingUK

A brief history of the Women’s Tour de France

A women’s race in France was held in 1955 with five stages in Normandy but was ultimately only a one-off. It was won by the Brit Millie Robinson.

Marianne Martins won the rebooted version in 1984. This time it had 18 stages and was run with the blessing of the Tour de France. Held over smaller parts of the men’s stages and despite the winner joining the men’s winner on the final podium the race wasn’t adequately marketed and received little media attention. ASO took the Tour de France name off the race after the 1989 edition.

An alternative race ran from 1992, ultimately known as the Grande Boucle Feminine after ASO sued the organisers about naming rights. The number of stages dwindled and ultimately that race stopped in 2009, with a certain Marianne Vos in 3rd place on the final GC.

A group of current and former riders petitioned ASO to create a new race and La Course was what they ended up with. A one-day race but at least something by ASO in women’s cycling again. Fast forward to 2021 and the Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme announced the return of a multi-day stage race with the Tour de France Femmes name.

Zwift has sponsored the race and helped provided a new highest prize money pot of €250,000. 190 countries worldwide will be able to broadcast the Tour de France Femmes.

Elisa Longo Borghini

“Something I always underline is that this won’t be the first Tour de France. Many women have already ridden the Tour de France. They did something that in the end played out a big goal for us. This shouldn’t be forgotten. Now little girls can see us, and that is amazing.”

Elisa Longo Borghini

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