By Gregor Brown
Following in the footsteps of the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España will include a women's race. Race Director Javier Guillén said that when the stage race returns to Madrid next year (2015) it will host a one-day women's event.
Guillén told Spanish sports daily AS, "Like the Tour de France is doing in Paris this year, hosting a women's race on the final day, the Vuelta wants to do the same next year in Madrid."
Tour organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announced on February 1 that it would include a women's race on the final day of its event, July 27. Before the men arrive to complete the customary stage on the Champs-Élysées, women will compete in La Course.
"A new event that will give an even more universal dimension to the Tour," read an ASO press release. "A few hours before the men's peloton arrives in Paris, with live broadcast on France Télévisions and Eurosport International, the world's elite women cyclists will race the circuit in the historic heart of the city before fighting out a final sprint at the finish line on the Champs-Élysées."
"The launch of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport," world champion, Marianne Vos said. "The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I have no doubt that La Course by Le Tour identifies a new era for women's cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing."
Vos would likely agree with the Vuelta's decision, as well. Organiser Unipublic, which ASO partly owns, has yet to make an official announcement.
This year, the Spanish Grand Tour finishes outside of Madrid for the first time in 21 years, since 1993. With its Santiago de Compostela finish, Unipublic wants to celebrate the 800th anniversary visit of St Francis of Assisi's visit.
Guillén said that his race definitely will return to Madrid next year. That means he has shelved complicated plans to visit the Canary Islands. He explained: "We would have to end it there with four stages, two in Gran Canaria and two in Tenerife, with the climb to Teide."
The Madrid return clears the way for the Vuelta's version of La Course. It also adds an additional women's race in late summer. They currently have a series of stage races – International de l'Ardèche, Boels Rental, Belgium Tour, Giro Toscana – and the Chrono Champenois.
"There are obviously huge logistical difficulties with the whole stage race, but for that one stage the infrastructure's already there and people are there to watch it," Emma Pooley told the Press Association regarding the Tour's women's race. "It will add to the entertainment to have a women's race; it's not like it's going to get in the way."
Like the Tour, the women's Vuelta event directly ties into the famous men's version and, because it coincides, it should have a guaranteed crowd. Currently, they race on the same day as the men in the Tour of Flanders and Flèche Wallonne.
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