Christian Prudhomme is certain that a women’s Tour de France will take place in 2022, according to an interview with the director of the Tour de France in The Guardian. The women’s event will take place after the men have completed their race on the Champs-Élysées, although the duration and dates of the race are still unknown.
“It would have happened this year if it hadn’t been for the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously, and most importantly, if the Tokyo Olympics hadn’t been held after the [men’s] Tour, so the best drivers may not be available, ”said Prudhomme. “But the decision has been made. There will be a Tour de France women in 2022 after the [men’s] To visit.”
A fuller picture of what the women’s event will look like will be announced in October when Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) abandons the 2022 Men’s Tour de France route.
Prudhomme said the key to the success of the Women’s Tour de France is learning from the women’s race which ran from 1984 to 1989 alongside the men. “What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, that will be put in place and will stand the test of time. This means that the race cannot lose money, ”said Prudhomme.
The new event will have a different name and identity than the men. ASO has already claimed the Twitter handle @letourfemmes in anticipation of the launch.
According to Prudhomme, all the women’s events that ASO currently organizes are losing money from the organization. At the moment ASO are the organizers of Flèche-Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and hopefully a Paris-Roubaix for women in October. ASO also offers La Course by le 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 takes place, La Course will continue as a one-day event.
“There was the Tour du Yorkshire and the Tour de Qatar Feminin; there will be Paris-Roubaix in October, ”said Prudhomme. “If it makes money, that’s great, but it mustn’t waste any money or it will end up like the Tour in the 80s and he’ll die.”
In an attempt to succeed with the next women’s TDF, Prudhomme hopes holding the race in the weeks following the men’s event will mean more race coverage as the two will not compete for attention. At the end of the men’s race, fans are left with a bike racing hangover which will hopefully be cured by the women fighting on the roads of France.
At least organizing a women’s race will be less difficult. The women’s peloton does not need a course as formidable as the men, according to Prudhomme. “To run a women’s race it’s easier, you don’t need 50 really steep climbs, you can be more natural about it,” said Prudhomme. “Women’s cycling is much less controlled than men’s.”
Women’s cycling has grown steadily, especially over the past two years. The new UCI rules which oblige each Women’s WorldTour race to have at least one hour of live footage mean that women’s races are attracting more and more viewers, and rightly so. The sport continues to get more professional as more money is invested in runners, teams and events.
It may be true that races are currently losing money for organizers, but any new venture proves that money has to be spent to be won, and if the race is going well, with the right coverage and proper hype, it is quite possible to make money. Especially if the female side of cycling continues to grow at its current rate.
The ASO knows how to run a successful race, even if they are willing to cancel the event if they don’t bring in any money. Fans have been clamoring for a women’s Tour de France for years, so there will be some who will be delighted with this news. However, cynical fans of women’s cycling are hopeful that ASO will invest the necessary resources to make the event as successful as possible.