Women’s Tour de France alongside men’s race ‘impossible’, says director Christian Prudhomme

The Tour director says the organisers would not be able to get permits for a parallel race

A women’s Tour de France held alongside the men’s race would be ‘impossible’, according to organiser Christian Prudhomme.

The race director says he does not think he could get permits to hold a women’s edition of the Tour in July.

Tour de France organiser ASO holds a one-day race for women, La Course, in July but Prudhomme’s words suggest we are no closer to an equivalent three-week race for women.

Prudhomme, Tour director since 2007, told Eurosport France: “A women’s Tour de France in July is impossible.

“I would not know how to organise such an event in July. We would never get the necessary permits while the Tour is being raced at the same time.

“It is simply impossible to do so.”

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Campaigners have been pushing for a women’s Tour de France for years, with a petition set up by activists attracting 96,000 signatures

La Course was set up in 2014 as a 89-kilomoetre circuit around Paris, held a day before the final stage of the men’s Tour de France.

It has been held as a one-day event, but organisers ASO decided to add a second stage in 2017.

However, the event returned to a one-day event for 2018.

Last November, UCI president David Lappartient revealed that ASO is working on a week-long version of the Tour de France and that he was pressuring the organiser into extending the event to 10 days.

There are also plans for ASO to hold a women’s Paris-Roubaix in 2020.

Prudhomme added: “We organise a large number of women’s races and we want women’s cycling to develop, but a women’s Tour in July is a resounding no.

“It simply cannot be done during the Tour.”

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The UCI is pushing for increased professionalisation in the women’s side of the sport.

A new structure for professional women’s professional road cycling will come into force at the start of the 2020 season, more closely resembling the men’s system.

Late last year, former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo) told Cycling Weekly she welcomes the changes.

She said: “I’ve always said I think a minimum wage is really important to bring the depth of women’s cycling up. That’s being introduced and I’m really happy about that.”

On what she would like to see introduced to women’s racing, she said: “There’s these Monuments that I would love to be able to take part in. I’d love a Milan-San Remo, which there has been in the past.

“I think we’re getting there. I think race organisers are thinking outside the box and thinking ‘why not?’

“Hopefully in my lifetime, maybe not in my career anymore but hopefully we’ll see those Monuments in women’s cycling.”