Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, has today written to the director of the Tour de France, Christian Proudhomme, to support calls for a women’s version of the event to be held.
Ms Harman also called for a women’s race to be held alongside the Grand Depart, which will be held in the UK in 2014, arguing it would be a ‘great opportunity’ to capitalise on the success of the Olympics and would set an example to the rest of Europe and Le Tour.
The full text of the letter is below.
I am writing to call on you to hold a women’s race alongside the Grand Départ of the Tour de France in 2014.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, former world champion and Olympic silver medallist Emma Pooley called for a women’s Tour de France to be reinstated. She has since signed a petition on the subject, along with female cycling champions Kathryn Bertine and Marianne Vos, triathlon world champion Chrissie Wellington, and tens of thousands of others.
This highlights the divide between men’s and women’s cycling. Britain’s women won 5 medals at London 2012 (compared to 7 for the men). Britain has some of the best women cyclists in the world – but for years they had to compete for foreign teams as there was no investment in an elite women’s team.
In her retirement statement, former world champion and Olympic gold medallist Nicole Cooke wrote of how women’s road racing had ‘crumbled’ since 2002 including the loss of the women’s Tour de France.
Overall, women’s sport misses out compared to men’s sport: women’s sport only receives 0.5% of total sports sponsorship in the UK and only 4% of sports coverage in national and local newspapers is dedicated to women’s sport.
The Grand Départ being held in Yorkshire and from Cambridge to London in 2014 presents a great opportunity to hold a women’s event and set an example to the rest of Europe and Le Tour. After the success of the Olympics, women’s cycling should not be allowed to slip back into the shadows.
I support the call for a women’s Tour de France and call on you to organise a women’s race alongside the Grand Départ.
I have also sent copies of this letter to British Cycling, UK Sport, Leeds City Council, Cambridge City Council, and Cambridgeshire County Council.
It would be great if Leeds was a Grand Depart which included women.