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Specialized lululemon team owner and UCI women’s committee member Kristy Scrymgeour has hailed the news on Friday that Tour de France organisers ASO are considering holding a week long women’s version of the event.
According to a report published by Bloomberg on Friday, ASO chairman Jean-Etienne Amaury said that the company is looking for a backer to finance the event, which would be an expansion of the single day La Course event held on the final day of the 2014 Tour in Paris.
Amaury said that the costs of staging the event would need to be covered by a backer, as would the additional expense of broadcasting the women’s race.
He said that an American company might be the most logical to fill that slot, given the strong reception and feedback the inaugural La Course race generated in the US.
Speaking to CyclingTips following the publication of that report, Scrymgeour said that such a race could have a profound effect on the women’s wing of the sport.
“It would be huge if you have got a week of women’s cycling on TV,” she said. “This year it was broadcast all around the world. It got good ratings, and so a week of that would be fantastic.
“It would be amazing for teams to be able to go and say to their sponsors, ‘the team is going to be on TV for a week’ at the time of the year when cycling is at its peak.”
Scrymgeour said that this exposure would in turn have a knock-on effect with those sponsors and also with others considering getting involved with the sport.
“It would be absolutely great. Even the one day race had a big impact. People knew about La Course…everyone you talked to knew it happened, even if they were not really into cycling.”
Scrymgeour has been involved in the sport for many years, firstly as an international racer, then via her work with squads such as HTC Highroad/Colombia and Specialized lululemon. She is currently working on plans relating to the latter squad for 2015, with a drive under way to secure a new title sponsor.
The Australian is encouraged by what she sees as a growing interest in and influence from the women’s side of the sport.
“People have definitely started to pay attention to cycling. I think La Course triggered a lot of other races to get behind women’s cycling as well,” she said. “Everybody considers it to have been a success. It definitely put women’s cycling on the map a little bit more.”
She said that other races have also helped, including the women’s Tour in Britain. Scrymgeour also acknowledges what she terms great work by the UCI, pointing out that its efforts to broadcast the women’s World Cup races have been a big boost.
“There are definitely pushes from all different angles,” she said. “We then saw an announcement from the Tour of Colorado [the US Pro Challenge – ed.] that there is going to be women’s race. There is a new women’s race in Utah. The Tour of California is going to increase. RCS is going to do a women’s Strade Bianche, which is awesome.
“To have these new opportunities for women’s teams and exposure is great. If it happens, a week-long women’s Tour de France would be super for the sport.”