A women’s version of the Tour de France will be held next year with a start on the iconic Champs-Elysees boulevard in Paris after the conclusion of the men’s race.
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 on Thursday said that riders will “tackle the most challenging route” and “defy the most iconic climbs.”
The breakthrough race is scheduled to start on July 24, 2022.
“This is a huge moment for professional women’s cycling,” Dutch Olympic road race champion Anna van der Breggen said in a statement.
“The Tour de France is the most famous race in cycling 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.”
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.
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 organises La Course, an elite women’s race – typically one day – held in Paris, coinciding with the Tour.
This year’s Tour de France begins on June 26 in Brest.