This year’s Tour de France saw an historic return of women’s cycling to the Champs Elysees – with the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France.
The 13 lap, 89 kilometer, one-day race along the famous Champs Elysees, was held on July 27 as part of the men’s Tour de France.
One of the leading proponents behind the race was Kathryn Bertine, who participated in the race as part of the Wiggle-Honda team.
"I had an idea about five years ago, back in 2009, that we don’t have a women’s Tour de France," Bertine told the media. "’Why is that? And of course at that point I was new to professional cycling and didn’t know too many of the players in the sport so to speak. So I had a business plan drawn up but didn’t really have anywhere to go with it because I dint have a name or a voice behind this moment."
In addition, World Champion Marianne Vos was also a key supporter of the event – backing Bertine’s efforts to help bring the race to fruition.
"Tour de France has everything and that’s what it makes it a big event and big inspiration for all people around the world," she explained. "Women’s cycling has role models, has big names and fantastic stories but nobody sees them."
For Bertine, her mission is to bring greater parity between men’s and women’s cycling – similar to other sports such as tennis, athletics and, especially, triathlon.
"This is a sport where the men and the women don’t technically compete against each other, they do compete on the same course, same distance, same day for the same money at roughly the same time," Bertine said of how triathlon gets it right. "So right there that just goes to show that the sport can sustain itself and not to mention it’s very successful. The infrastructure of triathlon; it’s wealthy, it treats its competitors right and equally, and actually promotes women in sport as something it should be."
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