Lizzie Deignan: Tour de France Femmes will be 'dynamic' compared to men's Tour

Trek-Segafredo rider says that eventually she would like to see a three-week Tour for women

Lizzie Deignan
Lizzie Deignan (centre) after she won the first edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Tour de France Femmes will be a "great watch" due to its "dynamic" racing compared to the men's version, Lizzie Deignan has said. 

Speaking from Trek-Segafredo training camp on Tuesday, the Paris-Roubaix champion explained that the first edition of the Tour Femmes has been "really well designed".

"I really like the stages, the dynamic aspect of it," she said. "I think there is something for everybody. I think that it will be a really great watch after something like the men's Tour. 

"With these super-teams like Jumbo or UAE, there will be a certain amount of control [in the men's Tour], and probably an inevitable yellow jersey at the end of it. In the women's race it will be quite dynamic in comparison to that and quite interesting."

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The Tour de France Femmes will be the first time that race organiser ASO has put together a female Tour de France, although various guises of a similar race ran between 1984 and 2009.

The race will begin in Paris on the same day as the men's Tour finishes, and will end eight stages later with a summit finish on the Super Planche des Belles Filles.

Research based on last year's World Championship road race showed that women's racing was just as popular as men's racing on television in the Netherlands. The Metro newspaper reported: "An average of 358,000 people tuned into the women’s race on Saturday, representing a 30 per cent market share, compared with 338,000 for the men on Sunday, which translates to a 15.5 per cent share."

Deignan said that she believes a three-week Tour for women should be the end goal, saying that "there's no reason why not", but that it is good to start somewhere with the eight-stage edition.

"I think it's important that there are stepping stones and we don't just go boom straight into a three-week Tour de France," the British rider said.

"Any change that happens needs to be sustainable, and I think in recent years there has been a good progression in women's cycling. Sometimes you need to push the boundaries so the teams catch up, so it is a difficult balancing act. But at the moment I think the scales are balanced."

The one thing that needs to be looked at, according to the former world champion, is the gap between junior and elite levels, with no formal under-23 level existing for women, unlike men.

She said: "In the future I think the thing that needs to be looked at is developing the jump from junior to elite, so that we do have that beginner pool of athletes to sustain a full calendar. Things like the U23 world championships are going to help that, but there still needs to be more races for the under 23 women coming through."

Deignan is in Trek-Segafredo's provisional squad for the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, but she explained that she still is unclear on her role for it just yet.

"The Tour de France is huge, but it depends a lot on the team dynamic and what the expectations of me are, and I don't know that yet," she said. 

"I'm keen to know what the team wants from me because I could say 'the Tour is a huge goal', but it might be a huge goal of Elisa [Longo Borghini]'s or Ellen [van Dijk]'s, and I need to fall in line. I need to pick areas where I am going to go for myself and also areas where I need to be a good teammate."

The Tour will be a "massive goal" for everyone, she said. "Not just the individual riders but the teams and the sponsors. They're expecting a lot there so we have to plan a bit differently."

One race that she does want to target is the Amstel Gold Race, one of the few big races that Deignan has not previously won. Her palmarés includes the Tour of Flanders, the World Championships, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and now Paris Roubaix.

"I’d like to focus on Amstel Gold and the Ardennes Classics. I’ve still not won Amstel, so it would be nice to tick that one off."

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