Tour de France to hold women’s cycling race in July 2022

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FILE – In this Sunday, July 27, 1986 file photo, Tour de France winners Italian Maria Canins and American Greg Lemond after the arrival of the two races on the Champs Elysees in Paris. A women’s version of the Tour de France will be held in 2022 with a start on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard after the conclusion of the men’s race, organizers announced Thursday June 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

PARIS (AP) — A women’s version of the Tour de France will be held in 2022 with a start on Paris’ iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard after the conclusion of the men’s race, organizers announced Thursday.

The “Tour de France Femmes” aims to become a permanent fixture on the women’s world tour cycling calendar after various failed attempts in the past.

The route and length of the race were not immediately disclosed but a video accompanying the launch said riders will “tackle the most challenging route” and “defy the most iconic climbs.”

It is scheduled to start on July 24, 2022.

“This is a huge moment for professional women’s cycling,” Anna van der Breggen, a rider for UCI Women’s WorldTeam SD Worx, said in a statement.

“The Tour de France is the most famous race in cycling,” she continued, “and it’s long been a dream for many of us to compete in a women’s Tour de France. I’m hopeful that the race will help us grow our sport even more by providing us with a media platform to take the excitement of women’s cycling to new audiences.”

Tour de France organizer Christian Prudhomme earlier this year had revealed the likelihood of the race for 2022.

A women’s Tour stage race took place from 1984 to 1989, running parallel with the men’s race before later being shortened. Various other versions have been tried but they usually were underfunded.

Online fitness platform Zwift has signed on in a four-year sponsorship. Tour de France owner Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) and Zwift worked together last year to hold a virtual edition of the race.

”I really believe the women’s peloton puts on some of the most exciting bike racing to watch and it deserves a much bigger platform to exhibit these talents and skills,” Zwift chief executive Eric Min said.

Female cyclists have spent years calling for a women’s version of the race. They’ve put together petitions, and some even rode every stage of the men’s race just to raise awareness.

ASO currently organizes La Course, an elite women’s race — typically one day — held in Paris coinciding with the Tour.

The Tour de France begins June 26 in Brest.

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