There were hopes this year that we'd see Paris race La Course expand to take the event one step closer to a women's Tour de France - but those hopes were dashed when event organisers made their big 2017 announcement. Rather than moving in the direction of gender equality in racing, they've simply stepped sideways.
In 2013, pro cyclists including Emma Pooley, Marianne Vos, and Kathryn Bertine campaigned for the reinstatement of the women’s Tour de France. Regardless of their support, signatures and sheer determination, they didn't get one. Instead of a multi-stage cycling event, equivalent to the men's TDF, women's in cycling were offered a one-day crit race: La Course.
La Course allows professional female cyclists from around the globe to race the latter half of the final stage of the men's TDF route in Paris. With the streets decorated with fans and celebrations, it was a small step in the right direction for women's cycling.
However, 2 years on and with gaining momentum, we've been anticipating a big announcement from organisers, ASO, about the future of La Course. We didn't get the news we were hoping for...
You'd expect a natural progression with any successful event. Make it bigger, better and all encompassing to nurture and support aspiring riders. However, ASO's latest announcement has shocked the cycling world as they plan to move La Course out of the city, and into the mountains.
This move does come with some positive points as the route will provide more of a challenge to the riders. The course will see some rather hilly sections, allowing women to showcase their endurance and technical ability. It is refreshing to see that the organisers are changing things up a little.
However, ASO have decided to keep the women's event as a one-day race. A little disappointing to say the least. With such success of the previous years, and the initial petition for a TDF equivalent, it's a shame to not see a change in the race format. Not only this, but the course length proposed for 2017 is a measly 67km for the women, while the men will ride for 178km.
La Course 2017: The Reactions
Tracey Gaudry, the Vice President of the UCI, tweeted last night that she believes this is "another great development" for women's cycling. However, this view isn't shared by many others, especially the professional athletes...
Nicole Cooke, Olympic and World Road race champion was quick to respond saying: "@gaudryt @UCIWomenCycling Great d'v'ment? In 2008 the WHOLE of Izoard was 1st col, Montegenevre 1850m then finish Sestriere 2035m. PROGRESS?"
Many supported Nicole's post, including Dani King.
Liv Planteur cyclist, Molly Weaver shared her thoughts about Aso's La Course announcement, as did Kathryn Bertine who helped get the wheels in motion for a women's TDF...
Although the new course plan is a welcomed change as it will make for more of a challenge, the generally feeling we have is disappointment.
A course change, and a shortened one at that, just dosen't cut it. Sadly, La Course will remain a one-day race for 2017, despite the athletes crying out for a more equal multi-stage event.
We want to hear your views. Tell us what you think about the proposed change, and somewhat lateral move for La Course 2017.
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