La Course by Le Tour de France has been hailed as a major step forward for parity for professional women’s cycle racing. The crème de la crème of the women’s pro peloton will race against each other on a course along the famous Champs Elysee, on the day final day of the Tour de France.
Interested in the event? Check out La Course by Le Tour de France: Everything You Need To Know including the route, how to watch and more.
It’s significant for many reasons and means a lot to the women involved. After years of unequal pay, unequal prize money and a race calendar that was at best erratic and at worst featured cancelled events and wasted time and resources, many feel that La Course represents the latest peak in the tide of change for women’s cycling.
We’ve documented the people, places and events that have brought La Course by Le Tour de France about.
1984 – Le Tour Cycliste Feminin Starts
Initially dubbed the ‘Women’s Tour de France’, and also called the Tour Feminin, this multi-day race around France started promisingly, consisting of 15 stages in different locations around the country.
1989 - 1992 - The event is not held
1998 - Renamed 'Le Grand Boucle' (the big loop) because of trademark issues with Le Tour de France.
Want to know What Happened to the Women's Tour de France? Follow the link.
2004 – The Grand Boucle is not held as a result of ‘organisational difficulties’.
2005 – The Grand Boucle returns in a reduced format, consisting of only 5 stages in one region of France, with a lower UCI ranking.
2009 – This year, the Grand Boucle consisted of only 4 days of racing with a meagre 66 riders. This led Britain’s Emma Pooley to comment that it was ‘more of a petite boucle than grand’. The race was discontinued.
Find out more about What Happened to the Women's Tour de France.
14th January 2013 – Retiring professional cyclist Nicole Cooke releases an impassioned statement severely criticising the UCI’s (cycling’s international governing body) lack of support for women’s cycling, and slamming drug cheats. Read Retiring Cooke Slams Drug Cheats for the full story.
4th June 2013 – Women’s cycling returns to the agenda of the UCI with the announcement that Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling, intends to run for presidency against the much-criticised incumbent Pat McQuaid. His manifesto includes a strong stance on women’s cycling, including the creation of a women’s commission, an increase in the number of events and races, and the insistence of at least one woman on every UCI Committee.
11th July 2013 – A petition is launched against the Amaury Sports Organisation (AS0) the organisers of the Tour de France. The petition calls for the ASO to allow professional women’s team to race the Tour de France.
“After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men's event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender's race interferes with the other.
Organised by La Tour Entier (meaning ‘The Entire Tour’) a group that consists of a number of high-profile professional women cyclists including Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Mariane Vos and Chrissie Wellington, it gained momentum rapidly when posted on change.org with over 97,307 signatures.
Read more about this: Hot Topic: Emma Pooley & Mariane Vos Campaign for Women's Tour de France.
19th July 2013 – Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme is accused of brushing off the petition with a gesture in response to a question during a press conference at the 2013 Tour de France.
23rd July 2013 – Harriet Harman, then deputy leader of the Labour Party in the UK, adds her backing to the campaign in a letter to Prudhomme. Read our article Women's Tour de France gets Political Backing for more on this.
24th July 2013 – In an apparent change of heart ASO Chairman Jean-Etienne Amaury indicates that they are willing to discuss the potential for holding an event. Chrissie Wellington of La Tour Entier comments that this is exciting progress.
30th July 2013 – Brian Cookson announces he is to facilitate a meeting between the ASO and Le Tour Entier to discuss the petition.
31st July 2013 – Christian Prudhomme, writing in response to the letter from Harriet Harman, indicates that he feels a simultaneous and parallel women’s race would be impossible, but remains open to other ideas.
27th September 2013 – Brian Cookson is voted in as President of the UCI.
2nd February 2014 - A new women’s one-day race is announced by the ASO, to run on the Champs Elysee on the final day of the Tour de France. It has the support of La Tour Entier.
La Tour Entier are happy with the result, adding the following statement to the campaign on change.org.
"We're happy to announce that La Course by Le Tour de France will take place in 2014! While this is not a full three-week race, it is a huge step forward. We now have the opportunity to showcase our talents to the world and grow the sport. Thank you to more than 97,000 people who signed our petition on Change.org. We look forward to your continued support for women's cycling and thank you for your commitment to equality."
30th April 2014 – Further details about the event are released. It is to be called La Course, and will consist of a circuitous route around the Champs Elysee. The prize money is to be equal to that of the men’s stage, and is set to attract some of the world’s top professional female cyclists.
7th to the 11th May 2014 – The Women’s Tour in the UK proves to be one of the most successful women’s professional cycle races ever, with thousands of spectators lining the race route, some mainstream media coverage, and successful sponsorship.
28th May 2014 – La Course by Le Tour de France announces the teams and riders who will be taking part. 17 Pro Teams and 3 National Teams are on the line-up, and star riders such as Marianne Vos will be racing.
3rd July 2014 - It is announced that Specialized Women will sponsor La Course by Le Tour de France.
9th July 2014 – The UCI announce a ‘women’s cycling week’ will precede La Course, with the ambition of raising the profile of women’s cycling. The week will include a ride to Paris from Ultrecht with the group of 25 amateur women arriving the day before La Course. It is also announced that Brian Cookson will present the medals to the La Course by Le Tour de France podium finishers.
20th July 2014 – The UCI Women’s Cycling Week starts.
27th July 2014 – La Course by Le Tour de France. The event itself is finally here.
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