On Sunday the Tour de France Femmes start in Paris, with the first stage in the Champs-Élysées. It will be a big moment for women’s cycling, as it has been a long time since the Tour de France was organised for them as a stage race ánd because the attention for it will be great. At AK Sportpromotions we are happy to see that six of the riders we represent will be on the start line of the Tour de France Femmes.
From the six riders, we represent five by doing their management: Olivia Baril (Valcar), South African champion Frances Janse van Rensburg (Stade Rochlais), Silke Smulders (Liv Racing-Xstra), Maaike Boogaard (UAE) and Marjolein van ’t Geloof (Le Col Wahoo). Annemiek van Vleuten, the Movistar rider who recently won the Giro d’Italia for the third time, we help with her communications, taking care of her website and giving social media advise.
Maaike Boogaard: ‘Curious whether there will be a lot of spectators’
For the riders, racing the Tour de France is exciting. “I am really looking forward to the Tour de France”, Maaike Boogaard (photo below) says. The 23-years-old Dutch rider of UAE Team ADQ has shown great progress this season. “It is really cool that we are doing the race in this setup for the first time. I am curious whether there will be a lot of spectators and expect that there will be a lot of media attention. That is also good for the sport. With our team we hope to do a good general classification with Mavi Garcia and in sprints we ride for Marta Bastianelli. It would be nice if I could join the attack for a day, then you never know what could happen.”
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Olivia Baril: ‘The Tour is really important for me’
Canadian cyclist Olivia Baril (photo top) had her breakthrough this season, including a win in the GP Eibar and the youth classification of the Tour de Suisse. She had to leave the Giro d’Italia after a hard crash during the third stage, but is now ready to race again. “I’m excited for the race because it’s another long stage race for women and we don’t have so many. I recovered fast from an injury that could have put a lot of athletes on hold if they had the same before the Tour, but the Tour is really important for me, especially because now I missed an opportunity at the Giro.”
One of the things that is important for the 24-years-old rider, that had hoped to show herself during the Giro as well, is the team she is in; Valcar – Travel & Service from Italy. “I’m mostly excited to race with Valcar, because at this point in the season we’re a really well bonded team and we can do much more together than at the beginning of the season, so that’s exciting.”
‘The coverage of the race is by far the most important’
Olivia sees the Tour de France Femmes as an important race, but hopes the focus will be on the right things. “I understand the inequality question about men’s and women’s cycling is a big deal and 99% of the talk around this Tour, but I don’t think that should be the focus”, she says. “I think we should focus on the racing and the courses that will be really exciting and the coverage of the race is by far the most important. It will be easily accessible for everyone who wants to watch.”
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Annemiek van Vleuten: ‘I think it is a really nice start and I am looking forward to it’
After winning the Giro d’Italia, Annemiek van Vleuten (photo above) goes to the Tour de France Femmes with the same ambition. “I am very curious”, she says about the race in a preview we made with her on her website. “Every now and then I think, let’s first race before we say it’s going to be really big and epic, but I sure hope it does. That it will be a very successful edition and this is a very nice step towards more. That they can expand it into a bigger event. But I think this is a really nice start and I’m really looking forward to it. I am very curious what awaits us. In any case, a new race gives a lot of energy and I have the idea that the ASO is handling it very well and professionally.”
Diverse route and live television
The Tour de France Femmes starts on Sunday the 24th of July with a race in Paris, that finishes on the Champs-Élysees, before the men and their Tour de France at the same place. After that several flat stages follow, but on the fourth day the peloton goes over several gravel roads and the next day they have a very long 175 kilometers stage. On Saturday and Sunday the general classification will be decided, with the big climbs. On the 31st of July the race ends on top of the hard climb La Super Planche des Belles Filles. All stages will be broadcasted live, for example on Eurosport, each day starting around 14:15 CET.
Frances Janse van Rensburg is starting the Tour de France Femmes as the current South African champion