At the top of the Arc de Triomphe, Marion Rousse took stock this Friday, 100 days before the start of the new version of the Tour de France for women: eight stages including a finish on the Super Planche des Belles Filles. The former French champion, aided by sponsor Zwift and ASO, dreams of a grand fate for her race.
Strike the iron when it is hot. Hardly time to digest the three-week battle between Tadej Pogacar and his rivals that the “Tour de France Women with Zwift”, official name, will start on July 24 in front of the Eiffel Tower, finish line by men crossed on the Champs-Elysées. The 24 teams of six riders will leave for the Vosges for eight stages.
“It was important to leave Paris and have the bond between men and women,” said Marion Rousse, director of the race. This symbolism will mark history.” Women’s Tour de France, Women’s Grande Boucle, Women’s Bike Ride… Since 1955, the feminine look of the mythical Tour de France has had multiple lives for each time, quick stops. The race that Jeannie Longo won from 1987 to 1989 is coming back to life. The new organization is supported by Amaury Sport Organisation, the usual sponsors (LCL…) and, this is the novelty, a title sponsor, Zwift.
Rousse: ‘I am convinced that the race will be successful’
“The relaunch of a Tour de France for women is an extra step. Economic balance is essential. We are in a virtuous circle with champions who want to compete. At the request of the champions, we have done something hard,” warns Christian Prudhomme . Marion Rousse explained the route in the prestigious setting of the Arc de Triomphe. A not too typical race to discover the heroines on the bike, but complicated and over eight days. The Ballon d’Alsace, the first summit in the history of the Tour for men, is climbed. During the 4th stage, the runners will cover 13 kilometers of white paths in the heart of Champagne. Then a long stage like a classic, 175 kilometers. To finish, at the top of the Super Planche des Belles Filles, like the men a few weeks earlier.
“I wouldn’t say it’s crowded,” says Marion Rousse. I’m sure the race will work. The level is there, the public interest is there, we will have a big race in July. We want to become the reference race and give vocations to the little girls who saw the Tour on TV and could only identify with the men. This time the little girls will be able to identify with Annemiek van Vleuten and the others.”
Five French teams
At the moment, five French teams are announced at the start of this Tour de France women with Zwift, including the FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope of French champion Evita Muzic. Like Marion Rousse, she’s only seen the Tour’s male counterpart and perhaps a few archival footage of Longo or Cathy Marsal facing the Lithuanian and Italian armadas. “Finally a real Tour de France for women, she exclaims. I have arrived in the right era. We can be pioneers with the first yellow jersey.”
Of course, Marion Rousse and her teams use the yellow, green, white overcoats with red and white dots as well-known references. The third stage between Reims and Epernay will remind followers of the 2019 Tour and the takeover of the yellow jersey by Julian Alaphilippe. The boss dreams of putting an end to the last skeptics of women’s cycling. She is not mistaken, she only talks about spectacle, champions, efforts, tactics. After the first women’s Paris-Roubaix last year, this women’s TDF completes the landscape of the women’s races in France, landing next to the Giro, the other major stage race, built over 10 stages: “We still have a few mentalities to change, but about in general it’s evolved well some will say we only have 8 days but we can’t start and put three weeks straight supports Muzic It will evolve and get longer and longer in my opinion I don’t see why we should not be able to do it.” Marion Rousse dreams that these ladies TDF with Zwift will still be there in 100 years. Christian Prudhomme announces 200 years. The enthusiasm from the beginning.