The Tour de France has only male competitors, but a group of female riders… (Guillaume Horcajuelo /…)
Two-time Olympic gold medalist Marianne Vos and several other elite female cyclists have started an online petition to include women in the Tour de France starting in 2014.
"For 100 years, the Tour de France has been the pinnacle endurance sports event of the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people. And for 100 years, it has been an exclusively male race," Vos and fellow cyclists Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine and Chrissie Wellington said in an online letter to Tour director Christian Prudhomme.
"After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too."
The petition has reached 2,000 signatures.
In the letter, the riders say the women's road race at the 2012 London Olympics "was a showcase for how impressive, exciting, and entertaining women's cycling can be" and that other events, such as the Tour of Flanders and Fleche Wallonne, are able to maintain men's and women's competitions.
The letter notes that a separate race called Tour Feminin that was once held, "but it lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship."
According to sportsister.com, cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, has rules in place limiting the distance women can ride in a single road race. Since that distance is much shorter than that of men's races, that rule would either have to be changed or there would have to be different start and finish lines for men and women to compete in the Tour de France at the same time.
Still, Mos and company use the marathon as an example of how women can compete alongside men in what was once a male-dominated sport.
"In the late 1960s people assumed that women couldn't run the marathon. 30 years on we can look back and see how erroneous this was," the letter states. "Hopefully 30 years from now, we will see 2014 as the year that opened people's eyes to true equality in the sport of cycling."
Graphic: Tour de France course
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