The route for the inaugural women’s Tour de France was unveiled on Thursday with eight stages, embarking from the Eiffel Tower on July 24 next year. The first edition of the women’s version of cycling’s iconic race starts on the day the 109th edition of the men’s Tour ends. After a route that winds through northern France, the race culminates in the Planche des Belles Filles climb in the Vosges mountains. Danish cyclist Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig said she was over the moon to be taking part.
“I want it to be July now so we can get stared,” she said actually jumping up and down.
“The Tour de France is a reference and when you say you are a cyclist people ask about that. Now I can say I race the Tour de France,” she said after the presentation.
Race director Marion Rousse, a former French cycling champion and now a TV commentator, told AFP it would be a varied course that would maintain suspense over the eight days.
“It is coherent in a sporting sense, and we wanted to start from Paris,” she said of the 1,029km run.
“With only eight stages we couldn’t go down to the Alps or the Pyrenees, the transfers would be too long.
“The stages obviously are shorter for the women than for the men’s races. The men can go 140 miles. For the women the longest race on our roster is 108 miles and we even needed special dispensation for that,” she said. “But it’s a course I love.”
Christian Prudhomme, the president of the Tour de France organizers, was equally enthusiastic.
“The fact it sets off from Paris the day the men’s race ends gives the new race a boost because it sets the media up to follow it more easily.
“It also means that with the Tour de France starting on July 1 and the women’s race ending on the 31st, there will be cycling on television every day of July.”
More info: www.letourfemmes.fr
RBA/AFP Photos: A.S.O.