Figures released by France TV Sport Press show that huge numbers of viewers in the host country have tuned in to the opening stages of the Tour de France Femmes Avec Zwift.
Some viewers have even called for coverage to be shown from kilometre zero like the men’s race instead of picking up the action later in the stage.
France TV Sport Press confirmed on social media that France 3 was the leader on the scheduled time slot yesterday afternoon, with a peak of 2.8 million people watching Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig (FDJ Suez Futuroscope) outsprint Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) to take victory on stage three.
More than one of the replies to the news on social media said: “TV from kilometre 0 please!”
Figures for stage three were a slight increase from Monday’s dramatic racing action. Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma) took the stage victory and yellow jersey after winning a sprint finish in Provins. Up to 2.5 million people tuned in to the French coverage to follow the stage. An exceptionally high figure considering the stage took place on a Monday afternoon.
The viewing figures were at three million for the opening stage in Paris on Sunday, and the continuing rise in numbers for the mid-week stages is a promising sign. Even without figures released by the other licensed broadcaster, Eurosport, the numbers show that women’s cycling is continuing to grow in popularity at a rapid rate.
Figures released by France Télévisions in relation to the men’s race show that a total of 41.5 million French viewers tuned into the racing action prior to the Tour de France Femmes getting underway. 6.4 million people also watched the Bastille Day stage to Alpe d’Huez which was won by Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers).
MORE EYES ON HER
Last week, British team Le-Col Wahoo took the unprecedented move of giving out 10,000 free GCN+ passes for fans in the UK to watch the race. The aim of the promotion by the team is to increase the awareness of and boost fan engagement with the sport in the UK.
Any one of the fans lucky enough to have got hold of a free pass won't have been disappointed. Each stage so far has been full of dramatic action, with twists and turns with every pedal stroke. Uttrup Ludwig's stage victory was as good as any we saw in the men's edition of the race, and the Danish rider proved that she has a powerful enough final sprint that would trouble the likes of Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
Tom Varney, general manager of Le-Col Wahoo does admit that “there is still a long way to go in gaining parity with the men’s race”, however whilst the numbers may be small in comparison to the men’s race, they are a promising sign that women’s cycling is fast achieving the mainstream breakthrough that it has been threatening for years.
Thousands watching on television in France and thousands more on the road side are an exciting and encouraging development.
Once the race concludes next weekend and overall viewing figures are released, it appears highly likely that there'll be ample evidence to cement the Tour de France Femmes place on the racing calendar. Although, of course, it deserved it long before now.
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