Four-time world ironman champion Chrissie Wellington, Marianne Vos - the most decorated female cyclist in history, Olympic silver medalist Emma Pooley and professional cyclist Kathryn Bertine today turned up the heat on their women’s Tour de France campaign with the launch of a ground breaking manifesto and a social media campaign on twitter.
In July, this same group launched a petition directed at Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme calling for a women’s Tour de France event. The online petition has already received over 93,000 signatures from people world-wide.
Building on this momentum, the “Le Tour Entier” (French for “The Whole Tour”) manifesto calls not only for a women’s Tour de France race, but it also outlines a complete framework to support the growth of women’s cycling with greater consumer, media and commercial appeal. The manifesto has been shared with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the ASO (the organizer of the Tour de France).
“Global interest in cycling has never been greater, but growth is still hampered by its failure to truly support the women’s side of the sport. We feel passionately about playing our part in tackling the status quo, and that’s why we launched the petition and now the manifesto,” stated Chrissie Wellington in a press release.
Current Olympic and World road cycling champion Marianne Vos added; "My dream is to give women's cycling a bigger platform, to help it have a brighter future and to show the world the beauty of the races. The Tour de France, as one of the biggest sporting events in the world provides a great opportunity to make the actual change.”
The Le Tour Entier manifesto also highlights that women’s cycling is suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to be its custodians, posing questions for the International Cycling Union, among others, to answer.
“We have been very frank, open and honest in this manifesto” said former world champion, Emma Pooley. “We’ve taken a long hard look at women’s road cycling as a whole, what’s working and what isn’t. We’ve been pretty critical of the way in which women’s cycling is currently run, which in truth is pretty badly, but we’ve also come up with some very positive solutions and suggestions…I just think it's high time that the greatest and most inspiring bike race in the world had a women's race! Quite apart from the obvious inequality, it's a missed opportunity for spectators and the sport of cycling as a whole. I think that when girls take up cycling, they should be able to aspire to race the Tour de France without that being just a crazy dream."
Highlights of the manifesto:
- Calls for an annual women’s race at the Tour de France to be run alongside the men’s race, starting in 2014.
- Suggests the creation of a women’s World Tour, Continental Tours and Continental Championships - recommending that the men’s pro World Tour events should also have a women’s race, taking place simultaneously.
- Calls for the revision of the current race and stage length restrictions for women and the abolition of the average age rules for women’s UCI teams.
- Proposes that UCI encourage men's World Tour teams to have both male and female squads through the licensing system.
- Proposes plans to help improve and increase media coverage of women’s races and of female athletes and teams.
- Makes the strong case for commercial investment in women’s cycling and the further use of female brand ambassadors.
- Calls for more detailed research into women’s cycling at all levels, including coverage, sponsorship and participation.
- Makes the CSR case for investment in women’s cycling.
To read the full manifesto for a women’s Tour de France – please click here.