The Daily Telegraph - Business
Please send us your views on sport and our coverage to the Sports Editor, The Daily Telegraph, 111 Buckingham Palace Rd, SWIW 0DT. Or email sportletters@ telegraph.co.uk. Please include your postal address. We will publish the best each week. month. All of this comes despite the efforts of those such as the InternationElles, an international group of amateur women cyclists who have ridden each stage of the Tour de France before the men since three women first did so in 2015. Introducing longer races for women is just one of the group’s many aims in its fight to address inequality in pro cycling.
A stark example is the Giro Rosa which, despite being the biggest event of the women’s cycling calendar and the most ferociously contested event, is still not broadcast live.
Since the UCI took over the race in 2016, organisers have been hell-bent on coinciding it with the Tour de France.
That today’s long stage tallies with the second rest day of
underlines just how much of a missed opportunity this is. Today’s stage will nevertheless offer something different to what elite female riders have experienced in their pro careers.
Depending on its entertainment value, it could even open the door for longer races in the women’s peloton, a move which would placate those like Van Vleuten who, at 37, has excelled at greater distances in her later years.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider did not disappoint on stage two of the Giro on Saturday, when she was forced to run up the final gravel climb in order to maintain another solo lead before taking the
Compare that to this year’s stage five of the Tour de France, which was branded “boring” by
due to the riders’ reluctance to form a breakaway throughout the race.
Just as we are offered a glimpse into what could be a turning point for women’s cycling, there is an overwhelming sense that longer stages will likely be a one-off.
The distances of non-time trial stages in the Tour de France have progressively shortened over the past 20 years, the idea being that shorter stages create punchier, more aggressive racing, which carries greater entertainment value. Amid growing speculation that a Women’s Tour de France will be launched in 2022, would women’s cyclists be resigned to shorter distances before they have a real chance to prove themselves?
Longer might not always mean better. But the inclusion of distances which exceed the 160km limit for female riders certainly challenges backdated perceptions towards them.
And as Uttrup Ludwig rightly points out, women’s wombs will fare just fine.