Women’s Route de France under threat over lack of Grand Depart city
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

Women’s Route de France under threat over lack of Grand Depart city

by Ben Atkins at 3:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
The only major French stage race facing second cancellation in four years

linda villumsenWith the new International Cycling Union (UCI) Women’s Commission set to meet for the very first time next week, it faces its very first challenge with the 2014 edition of the Route de France Féminine under threat. The organisation has yet to reach an agreement with a host city for its Grand Depart and, with a lack of sponsorship also an issue the nine-day race may not take place.

The race is set to run between the Brittany and Alsace regions of France, from August 9th to 17th, organiser Hervé Gérardin fears that he may have to call it off.

“Most mayors are contesting municipal elections [in March],” Gérardin explained. “It will be impossible to set up such an event in less than four months.”

Since the demise of the Tour de l’Aude in 2010, the 2.1 Route de France is the only major women’s stage race in France. The 2011 edition of the race was cancelled due to similar concerns over host towns and sponsorship, and next year’s race could go the same way if Gérardin cannot reach agreements.

“Without help municipalities and sponsors, the race cannot take place in 2014,” he said. “It is a shame for women's cycling.”

The 2013 edition of the race, between Soissons and Chauffailles, was won by Wiggle Honda’s Linda Villumsen (pictured) with a final stage attack that seized the yellow jersey from prologue winner Emma Johansson (Orica-AIS) who had held it all the way through the race. The race had previously seen an incredible six-stage winning streak from Villumsen’s teammate, former two-time World champion Giorgia Bronzini.


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