Tour De France Adds Women's Race, 'La Course,' After Online Petition Reaches 97,000 Signatures

 @neato_itsdennis on February 01 2014 2:24 PM
Pack of Tour de France riders
HTC-Highroad rider Mark Cavendish of Britain (L) cycles to win the 11th stage of the Tour de France REUTERS

A women’s section will be added to the Tour de France, say tour organizers. La Course by Le Tour de France will be a women’s race that runs through Paris to coincide with the final stage of the men’s race.

The race was added by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), who organizes the Tour de France, after organizers collected over 97,000 signatures on a petition. The petition was organized by a group of Olympians and world-class cyclists including Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos and Chrissie Wellington.

The petition coincided with the 100th running of the men’s Tour de France, which has historically been an all-male competition. A separate race often referred to as the Tour de France Féminin was put together in the 1980s and ran until 2009, but it was not the same race as the men’s Tour de France.

The race will take place in Paris a few hours before the men’s race hits the city and will be broadcast live internationally. Supporters of women’s cycling argue that media exposure of women’s racing was more than lacking in the past and contributed to the women’s overall struggles over the years.

The course will wind through the heart of Paris before opening into a dramatic final sprint to the finish line on the historic Champs-Elysées.

Olympic champion Marianne Vos, who will take part in the race, expressed her excitement for La Course in a statement via the Tour’s website: “The launch of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport. The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I have no doubt that La Course by Le Tour identifies a new era for women's cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing."

La Course will take place on July 27 of this year. ASO announced that race details will be revealed in a press conference in the spring 2014.

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