A women’s Tour de France is looking more and more likely for 2022
Christian Prudhomme is certain a women’s Tour de France will take place in 2022, according to an interview with the Tour de France director in The Guardian. The women’s event will take place after the men have concluded racing on the Champs-Élysées, although the length and dates of the race are still unknown.
“It would have happened this year if it had not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously, and above all, if the Tokyo Olympics had not been after the [men’s] Tour, so the best riders may not be available,” Prudhomme said. “But the decision has been taken. There will be a Tour de France femmes in 2022 following closely after the [men’s] Tour.”
A more complete picture of what the women’s event will look like will be announced in October when Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) drops the route for the 2022 men’s Tour de France.
Prudhomme stated that the key to making the women’s Tour de France successful is to learn from the women’s race that took place from 1984 to 1989 alongside the men’s. “What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, that will be set up and stand the test of time. What that means is that the race cannot lose money,” Prudhomme said.
The new event will have a different name and identity to the men’s. ASO has already claimed the Twitter handle @letourfemmes in anticipation of the launch.
According to Prudhomme, all of the women’s events ASO currently runs lose the organisation money. At the moment, ASO are the organizers of Flèche-Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and hopefully a women’s Paris-Roubaix in October. The ASO also puts on La Course by the Tour de France, the one-day event that takes place during the men’s Tour de France. When the new women’s Tour de France does happen, La Course will continue as a one-day event.
“There was the Tour of Yorkshire and the Tour de Qatar Feminin; there will be Paris-Roubaix in October,” Prudhomme said. “If it makes money, that’s great, but it mustn’t lose money or it will end up like the Tour in the ’80s and it will die.”
In an attempt to achieve success with the upcoming women’s TDF Prudhomme hopes that holding the race in the weeks after the men’s event will mean more coverage of the race since the two would not be competing for attention. By the end of the men’s race, fans are left with a bike-racing hangover that will hopefully be cured by the women battling it out on the roads of France.
At least holding a women’s race will be less challenging. The women’s peloton doesn’t need as formidable a course as the men, according to Prudhomme. “To run a women’s race is more simple, you don’t need 50 hyper-steep climbs, you can be more natural about it,” Prudhomme said. “Women’s cycling is far less controlled than men’s.”
Women’s cycling has continued to grow, especially in the last two years. The new UCI rules that force every Women’s WorldTour race to have at least an hour of live pictures means women’s races have been pulling in more and more viewers, and rightfully so. The sport continues to get more professional as money is invested into the riders, teams, and events.
It may be true that races are currently losing organizers money, but any new business proves money must be spent to be made, and if the race is done properly, with the proper coverage and the proper hype, it’s entirely possible money can be made. Especially if the women’s side of cycling continues to grow at its current rate.
The ASO knows how to put on a successful race, although they are ready to cancel the event if it doesn’t make money. Fans have been asking for a women’s Tour de France for years, so there will be some who are thrilled with this news. However, cynical fans of women’s cycling will hope that the ASO puts in the resources to ensure the success of the event as much as possible.