The world of sport has been waiting for it for (too) long. The women’s Tour de France, the first with this name, was a resounding success on all fronts. While a women’s Grande Boucle worthy of the name had not taken place since 1989, the riders can be smiling at the end of the last stage, Sunday July 31, even if there are still a few points to improve. Franceinfo: sport takes stock.
The first women’s Tour de France, ASO version (Amaury sport organisation) started in Parisian frenzy, from the Trocadéro to the Champs-Elysées. If there were a few hollows along the route (just like for the men), the public was there. Caravaneers, runners, journalists or organizers: all explained that they did not expect to see so many people on the side of the roads. This popular success, supported by TV audiences, confirms the obvious: the popularity of the Tour and of cycling has no gender.
If women’s cycling is becoming more professional, it has not yet taken on all the bad habits of the men’s peloton. Where access to runners has been locked, even more so since the health crisis, the women’s teams have opened their doors all week, at the start and at the finish, which has made it possible to exchange with any runner . A detail that symbolizes the enthusiasm and freshness of an accessible peloton. Hope it lasts.
When the route of the Tour de France women 2022 was unveiled, we expected to be amazed. We were not disappointed. Even the supposedly less spectacular stage, between Meaux and Provins, had its share of (bad) surprises with the waterfalls. For the rest, between the Parisian fireworks, the effervescent Champagne stages with the Mutigny coast then the white paths, or even the great Vosges mountain stages, each day was lively.
We also owe it to the favorites who held their rank, in particular the Dutch trio made up of Lorena Wiebes, Marianne Vos, and Annemiek van Vleuten. More unbridled with its teams reduced to six, women’s cycling showed its best face, that of a restless peloton, which leads races with a beating drum.
We liked less:
With only eight stages and a Dutch hegemony, we knew it would be complicated for the French riders. And no one will blame them. But a Tour de France without a tricolor victory is like a cheesecake without coulis: delicious, but it lacks the best. We can console ourselves by remembering that Cecilie Ludwig, winner at Epernay, is Danish, but that she is racing for the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope. Or by looking at Juliette Labous’ excellent final place overall. It wasn’t for this time, but it will be soon.
On social networks or on the roadside, mockery flared up after some impressive falls that occurred on this Tour de France women. We also don’t forget the recurring questions about pee breaks or open jerseys revealing the shapes of the runners. If the public has in a large majority been won over by the show, a sexist minority is still making too much noise.
Of course, for its first edition, the Women’s Tour de France ASO version sometimes fumbled from an organizational point of view. Nobody really knew what to expect, a factor to keep in mind when analyzing the race week. However, if it was very appreciable to see the public in direct contact with the riders in the paddock or at the finish, it would have been more reasonable to introduce the same health rules for the crowd as for the teams, in order to protect the runners.
These athletes do not yet have the same privileges as the men, especially when it comes to joining the departure city the next day. Thus, there was no police escort for the women, who were often trapped in traffic jams, a problem that seems inconceivable for the male peloton. But these small details can be quickly resolved, and seem very light compared to all the work done by the Tour teams.