Tour de France organiser Christian Prudhomme has confirmed there will be a women’s edition of the race from 2022 that will "follow closely" after the men’s race.
There have been calls for several years for a women’s Tour de France to be staged, with Bradley Wiggins saying last summer it was "ridiculous" that it had not been done yet.
Prudhomme has revealed that it will take place next year with details to be confirmed in October.
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"It will take place next year, that’s certain," he told the Guardian.
"It would have happened this year if it had not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, obviously, and above all if the Tokyo Olympics had not been after the [men’s] Tour, so the best riders may not be available. But the decision has been taken. There will be a Tour de France femmes in 2022 following closely after the [men’s] Tour."
There was previously a women’s Tour de France run from 1984 to 1989, with the stages taking place before the men’s race. There has also been La Course, which recently has been a one-day women’s race running in France during the men’s Tour de France.
Prudhomme says the challenge will be to learn from the past, and thinks this time the women will follow the men.
"In my view, you have to put to one side the idea of parity between men and women. Why? Because there was a reason why that race only lasted for six years, and that was a lack of economic balance. What we want to do is create a race that will stay the course, that will be set up and stand the test of time. What that means is that the race cannot lose money.
"Today, all the women’s races that we organise lose us money. Even so, we’ve been running Fleche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, La Course by Le Tour. There was the Tour of Yorkshire and the Tour de Qatar Feminin, there will be Paris-Roubaix in October. If it makes money, that’s great, but it mustn’t lose money or it will end up like the Tour in the 80s and it will die.
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"If that balance had been achieved then, we would be on our 35th women’s Tour now. The challenge is to set up a race that can live for 100 years. That’s why we want it to follow the men’s Tour, so that the majority of the channels which broadcast the men’s Tour will cover it as well."
The men’s Tour de France is set to start on June 26 this year, with Tadej Pogacar as the defending champion. Prudhomme says there will potentially be differences between the layouts of the stages for men and women
"Men’s cycling has a high level, and is more at the same level. For a men’s organiser, that’s tough – you need steeper climbs all the time, harder climbs and so on.
"To run a women’s race is more simple, you don’t need 50 hyper-steep climbs, you can be more natural about it. Women’s cycling is far less controlled than men’s. I can tell you there will be links with the past, with the present, and perhaps the future on the route of the [women’s] Tour."
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