Bradley Wiggins says it is ridiculous that there is not a women’s Tour de France already in place and has called for the cycling authorities to make it happen.
Speaking in Thursday’s episode of The Breakaway on Eurosport, Wiggins said:
“There are a few ways of looking at it, but money comes from press attention and sponsors, and you can’t take away the fact that the world’s press' attention is typically on the Tour de France in July. It can still be standalone and pave its own way, but it has to be on at the same time, otherwise it could just get lost in the calendar.
“We were saying there should be this eight years ago, I got asked about it in 2012. Somebody has to take this on and make it happen, there’s a responsibility. It’s alright just pushing it down the road and saying it’ll be two years' time and so on. Just get on with it.
'Why are we still waiting for a women's Tour de France' - Bradley Wiggins
“It’s 2020, it should just happen. The president of the UCI should make it happen,” Wiggins said, to which fellow pundit Brian Smith let out a resigned sigh.
“Yeah, and there’s the problem,” Wiggins continued. “They need a supportive presence at the top, it’s ridiculous that it’s not happened. You talk about equality, it’s ridiculous.”
Orla Chennaoui, Eurosport cycling journalist and presenter of the Cycling Podcast Femenin, provided her suggestions for how the sport can grow on the women’s side, saying that sharing press attention is necessary but adding that it’s important not to copy the men’s model entirely.
“You need a mixture of races where the men’s and women’s races are run on the same day to share the platform and the media, we’ve seen the amount of difference that makes,” she said. “Take Amstel Gold for example, I remember last year’s race was one of the most spectacular days of racing we’ve had because we had the women’s race running before the men’s race.
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"But also we need to have women’s races as standalone, like we have with the Women’s Tour in the UK, which is the best-promoted and brings its own attention to women’s racing completely separate to the men, which is really healthy.
"It’s similar with the teams as well. It is a sport traditionally where we’ve had standalone women’s teams, and I think a healthy mix of both is good.
Let’s not pretend that men’s cycling is perfect. I don’t think that replicating all the mistakes of men’s cycling is a good way to do it; finding its own way and picking and choosing what works from men’s cycling is the best way to go for women’s cycling.