ASO looking to launch women’s race akin to the Tour de France

Organisers of the French race are setting up a women's cycling delegate group

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The organisers of the Tour de France are reportedly looking to launch a major women’s race which “would be to women’s cycling what the Tour de France is to men’s cycling.”

A senior Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) official has said that the group is looking to set up a delegate cell with the purpose of developing women’s cycling.

Speaking to Reuters on Friday, the anonymous official said that it would not be logistically possible to run the races at the same time, instead suggesting an entirely new endeavour.

“We cannot have a women’s Tour de France at the same moment as the men’s Tour because it would be logistically impossible. The Tour has grown so much and is so big that having two races at the same time would not be feasible.”

“We are setting up a cell to develop women’s cycling within ASO,” the official told Reuters.

ASO ceased to promote a women’s version of the Tour de France in 1989. The closest offering since has been La Course, the one-day race won by Marianne Vos (CCC-Liv) on Friday.

La Course was launched in 2014, as a result of campaigning from Vos herself, alongside several other riders.

The race maxed out at two days in 2017 before returning to a single day affair for 2018 and 2019.

ASO also organises women’s versions of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Fleche Wallonne. However, the company attracted a backlash this year after threatening to  axe the 45-minutes of TV coverage required to be granted Women’s World Tour status by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

ASO has now agreed to partner with Belgian TV channel RTBF to provide one hour of coverage on both events in 2020. It also organises Paris-Roubaix – the iconic classic that is still yet to host a women’s peloton.

Currently, the longest women’s stage race is the Giro Rosa, at 10-days, though in 2020 it will face competition from the newly launched Battle of the North in 2020.

Organisers of the Giro Rosa, Epinike Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica, have long hosted the women’s event over the first week of the Tour de France – in the pursuit of a combined highlights show designed to pull in local viewers.

This has tended to result in an overshadowing of the women’s event – though this year a combined effort from Vox Women and Trek saw highlights broadcast worldwide.

UCI president David Lappartient said ahead of the sixth edition of La Course that he would “continue to push” ASO to host a women’s equivalent of the Tour de France.

Speaking to BBC 5 Live’s podcast BeSpoke, he said: “One day of racing is clearly not enough for women.

“For women’s cycling we can continue to push – I have had strong discussions with them and I hope we can reach an agreement for the future.”