Women’s Tour de France: Prudhomme criticized for “ all women’s races make us lose money ”

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has been criticized for saying all women’s races organized by the Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) are losing money. Prudhomme made the controversial comment in an interview with the Guardian while confirming that the organization launch a return of the Women’s Tour de France in 2022.

“In my opinion, we have to put aside the idea of ​​parity between men and women. Why? Because there was a reason why [the women’s Tour de France held between 1984-89] only lasted six years, and it was a lack of economic balance. What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, be put in place and stand the test of time. It means the race can’t lose money, ”said Prudhomme, while warning that if the new Women’s Tour de France loses ASO money, it could face another cancellation.

“Today all the women’s races that we do are costing us money,” said Prudhomme. “Despite this, we ran Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Course by Le Tour. There was the Tour du Yorkshire and the Tour de Qatar Feminin, there will be Paris-Roubaix in October. If it makes money, that’s great, but you don’t have to lose money, otherwise it will end up like the Tour of the 80s, and he will die. “

The women’s peloton contested their first women’s Tour de France organized by ASO in 1984, won by American Marianne Martin, but the event ended in 1989.

ASO then organized one-day women’s races at La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, La Course and the inaugural Paris-Roubaix (scheduled for October). However, the organization has been criticized for not including the women’s field in the official Tour de France for the past 30 years.

Lose money or invest

The Course by Le Tour de France was created in 2014 following a petition addressed to ASO calling for a women’s Tour de France. The Whole Tour petition was led by Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and Chrissie Wellington and got 97,307 signatures. The event is now entering its eighth edition and will be held on June 26 in Brest on the sidelines of the first stage of the Men’s Tour de France.

The Race has become one of the most popular events of the Women’s WorldTour in its seven seasons, but ASO has still been criticized over the years for failing to deliver on its promise to make the event a women’s Tour de France. .

in action during 'La Course by Le Tour de France' on July 27, 2014 in Paris, France.  In this historic first edition of the event, professional runners will run 90 km on the Champs-Élysées before the finish of the final phase of the men's Tour de France.

Marianne Vos wins the first La Course (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

ASO confirmed at Cycling that he plans to keep La Course in operation after the launch of his women’s Tour de France – supposed to be called the Women’s Tour de France – in 2022.

“There are a lot of ways to look at Prudhomme’s comments; brutal, sexist, infuriating. The reality, however, is his sheer ignorance,” Bertine said. Cycling Wednesday, when asked if there was any truth to Prudhomme’s comments or if it was wrong to publicly portray ASO’s women’s races as unprofitable.

Bertine recently posted SUPPORT: A thesis on activism. A manual for progress. What really happens when we are on the front lines of change, which partly details the Tour Entier’s petition for a women’s Tour de France, the creation of La Course and the meeting with ASO.

“First of all, women’s races are making money. TV streaming audience statistics prove that the demand is there. I know that because we had access to the statistics through Universal Sports in 2014, when I ran The Race. . It was a huge success. The money was and is there, “she said.

“If ASO is to hide behind its inaccurate claim that ‘women’s events lose money’, they need to educate themselves. Fast. They are the ones responsible for knowing whether an event succeeds or fails. ASO needs to start promoting women’s events in the media. equal to how they promote men. It is not rocket science.

“Imagine where cycling will be when ASO and the UCI finally realize that female athletes are incredibly marketable. When done right, the whole sport of cycling will grow, prosper and be a lot more lucrative than it is now. “, added Bertine.

“It’s not the job of women cyclists to prove their worth – they already have. It is ASO’s responsibility to invest in the athletes and the races they create.

“The fact that we have a 2022 Women’s Tour de France is a game-changer. But Prudhomme’s archaic comments on women’s racing have a tone of ‘set up to fail’, and it doesn’t do much to prove that ASO evolved from their dinosaur views on women, sports and equality. “

MUR DE HUY BELGIUM APRIL 21 Anna Van Der Breggen from the Netherlands and SD Worx team Katarzyna Niewiadoma from Poland and Canyon SRAM Racing team sprint to the finish during the 24th La Fleche Wallonne 2021 Elite Women race 1302 km from Huy to Mur de Huy 204m FlecheWallonne FWwomen UCIWWT on April 21, 2021 at Mur de Huy Belgium Photo by Bas CzerwinskiGetty Images

Flèche Wallonne 2021 won by Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) for a seventh consecutive year (Image credit: Getty Images)

Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel joined the discussion on profitability, stressing the importance of having a long-term investment strategy in place for their women’s one-day events.

Flanders Classics has a four-year plan called ‘Closing the Gap’, launched last year, which included live streaming and parity in prize payouts. ASO has provided the live broadcast of La Course in previous years. Yet it only extended live coverage of Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the first time last year, as part of the UCI’s new requirement to be part of the Women’s WorldTour.

Flanders Classics also achieved its goal of hosting women’s events in conjunction with its six spring classics for men: Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Gent-Wevelgem, Dwars Door Vlaanderen, Tour of Flanders, Scheldeprijs and Brabantse Pijl.

“We believe in women’s cycling, so instead of calling it ‘losing money’, I call it investing more. We’re almost at the tipping point where broadcasters and sponsors want women’s cycling to work,” Van Den Spiegel said.

Cycling contacted ASO to ask for additional information, clarification and comments, regarding the financial details of the organization of their men’s and women’s events as well as their profit or loss, and for further details on their plans to create a Tour of sustainable feminine France. ASO declined to comment on Prudhomme’s statements to the Guardian and on Cycling‘follow-up questions.

“Regarding Mr. Prudhomme’s interview with the Guardian we will not make any further comment, “wrote an ASO representative to Cycling.

Not a sidehow

Prudhomme said that if ASO was to create a women’s Tour de France that would survive in the long run, he felt there were challenges in figuring out how to “run a race that can live 100 years”.

Part of ASO’s plan includes the organization of the Women’s Tour de France the week following the men’s event. ASO did not disclose the stages or the distance of the women’s event. However, it has been reported that it is expected to host an eight-day women’s race that would start in Paris on the same day the men complete their Tour de France stage 21 on the Champs Elysees.

In an interview with Cycling European champion Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) on Wednesday welcomed Prudhomme’s confirmation of the Women’s Tour de France for 2022 after years of speculation over whether such a race would come to fruition.

Van Vleuten declined to comment on the profitability of ASO’s women’s races. She agreed with Prudhomme’s logic in hosting the women’s Tour de France just after the men’s event. She fears that the men’s Tour de France will eclipse the women’s race if it is held at the same time.

“It’s good that the event has been confirmed,” said Van Vleuten Cycling. “It’s also good that it takes place the week after the men’s Tour de France. I have more confidence in this kind of assembly because it is always linked to the men’s Tour de France, but not at the same time, because then you fight something you will never win.The men’s event is so big.

PAU FRANCE JULY 19 Arrival Annemiek van Vleuten from the Netherlands and team MitcheltonScott Leader UCI Jersey Press Media during the 6th La Course 2019 by Le Tour de France a 121 km stage from Pau to Pau TDF LaCourse LaCoursebyTDF on July 19, 2019 in Pau France Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Annemiek van Vleuten at La Course 2019 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

“I believe in this concept, and I am very happy that they put the two races together in the same period [back-to-back] so we have the people following our event as a standalone race.

“As Prudhomme said, the race will cost money, and we don’t want it to lose money. We have to sell ourselves, we have to have great stories, we have to be on TV and people have to watch this race. If it were organized during the Tour de France, we would only be a side-show.

“It’s about the money, and we need the fans, we need the television, and it has to be marketed as the men’s Tour de France, so everything has to be the same for the women.”

There has been an ongoing discussion about the timing of a women’s Tour de France. Some, like Van Vleuten, think the race should take place separately, while others think ASO should host the women’s race alongside the men’s Tour de France with all its history and fanfare.

“I think the two races can and should be run simultaneously, as it benefits the fans, the sponsors and goes a long way towards fostering gender inclusion. We see this in most endurance sports, like the marathon, the triathlon and other cycling events, ”said Bertine.

“Having said that, holding the women’s race right after the men’s race can indeed be a very good ‘stand-alone’ event … but only if ASO also invests in media visibility and promotion of women. If ASO treats the women’s race as an afterthought with fewer broadcast and media rights, fewer benefits for sponsors and a streamlined route, then ASO offers tokenism instead of equality and sets the race for failure. new marketing and media professionals. Like so many of Prudhomme’s statements about race and female abilities are very, very outdated. “

Cycling spoke to inaugural laureate Marianne Martin for an article titled La Grande Boucle, La Course and the return of the Women’s Tour de France.

Martin believes that the women’s Tour de France should take place as before, over 18 days and take place at the same time as the men’s event. She also believes events should share departures and arrivals and use parts of the same route and iconic passes like Col du Galibier, Mont Ventoux, Tourmalet and Alpe d’Huez.

“The perfect women’s Tour de France, in my mind, would be like we did in 1984. I think it should be at the same time as the men’s race. Why would it be any different?”


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