Story at a glance

  • The Tour de France is a 21-day long race held over 23 days mostly across France, as well as several other countries.
  • A women’s version of the race was held in the 1980s but later canceled and struggled to be revived.
  • Now, the organizers are saying that the Tour de France Femme will launch in 2022.

For the first time since 2009, women cyclists will once again compete in a Tour de France, one of the most iconic races in the sport on the world stage. 

“This is a huge moment for professional women’s cycling,” says Anna van der Breggen, professional rider for UCI Women's WorldTeam SD Worx, in a release. “The Tour de France is the most famous race in cycling and it’s long been a dream for many of us to compete in a women’s Tour de France. I’m hopeful that the race will help us grow our sport even more by providing us with a media platform to take the excitement of women's cycling to new audiences.”


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The Tour de France Women, organized by the Tour de France Society, began in 1984 and has seen many iterations, becoming the Tour of the EEC Women in 1990 through 1993, then replaced by a new race, Grande Boucle Féminine Internationale, that struggled before shutting down for good in 2009. The next biggest race in France was the Route de France Féminine, which was most recently held in 2016. 

“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," Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme told The Guardian, adding that “Today, all the women’s races that we organize lose us money."

Not everyone sees it that way, however, and female cyclists have been lobbying for a return to the Tour de France.  


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"It's not that the women's Tour de France lost money in the eighties, it's that ASO didn't choose to invest in the women's race," Kathryn Bertine, a cyclist and writer, said in 2018. "They treated it as a secondary sideshow. While it was very apparent that the fans loved it, ASO didn't include the women's race in the broadcast rights and negotiations. They canceled it instead."

Now, the race is getting a second chance. 

"We've been fighting for — and working toward — this for a long time," Bertine told NPR. "At the end of the day, a Women's Tour de France is so much bigger than a bike race. It's a beacon of progress for society that men & women are valued equally at the top. So yes, I applaud the eight days coming in 2022. I'll be cheering the loudest! And behind the scenes, I'll still keep pushing for two more weeks to be added in the coming years."

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Published on Jun 21, 2021