PARIS (Reuters) – The women’s Tour de France will be revived next year and Christian Prudhomme, cycling director at Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), said he hoped the race would survive him.
The women’s Tour had not been held since 1989 and will this year start from Paris and end eight days later at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles climb at the end of an eight-stage ride through eastern France.
“It’s a balanced route, that will suit several types of riders,” race director Marion Rousse told reporters.
Prudhomme, who is the men’s Tour director, said the biggest challenge was to make the race a financially sustainable event.
“If it had been (sustainable), the women’s Tour would have been held for 40 years,” he told reporters on Thursday ahead of a presentation ceremony for the 2022 men’s and women’s Tours.
“The biggest challenge is to broadcast the race. I think we’ve done a good job, with the race starting the same day as the men’s race ends in Paris,” Prudhomme said, adding the event would be broadcast in 170 countries.
The men’s race is broadcast in about 190 countries.
While more than 300 towns apply and pay to host a stage of the men’s Tour every year, Prudhomme had to approach candidates himself for the women’s race.
“But they are all paying an entry fee and to give you an element of comparison, it’s more than for (the week-long men’s stage races) Paris-Nice and the Criterium du Dauphine,” he added.
“The goal is to organise a race that will stay, that will still exist in 100 years, that I can watch when I’m old and using a walker,” the 60-year-old Prudhomme said.
The 2022 women’s Tour will run from July 24-31, starting two weeks after the end of the longest women’s race on the calendar, the Giro Donne (July 1-10).
Double Tour champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, who will be defending his men’s title, is very interested in the event.
“Probably when I finish my Tour, I’m going in a camper to see the women’s Tour,” he told reporters on Thursday. “It’s a historic moment for cycling, it’s going to be a great event.”
“It’s a big step to have this race. It’s a dream come true,” French champion Evita Muzic added.
“When I was young I would watch the boys ride the Tour and now it’s going to be little girls watching girls take part in the Tour.”
(This story refiles to make clear attribution of quote in penultimate para.)
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ken Ferris)