The Arc de Triomphe and its terrace’s panoramic views of Paris served as spectacular backdrops for a ceremony counting down to the 1st Edition of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. In 100 days, 24 teams of six riders each will finish in view of the Arc on the Champs-Élysées after the race’s grand départ from the foot of the Eiffel Tour. The race begins July 24, the same day as the final men’s Tour de France stage.
# Words and photos by Barbara Giles. #
Cynisca Cycling joined the countdown ceremony as a supporter of women’s cycling as our non-profit works to elevate USA women in the sport. Cynisca is in the midst of its own countdown of sorts to its official launch this summer (more to come soon).
Cofidis rider Sandra Levenez, TdF Femme director and former French national cycling champion Marion Rousse, current French national women’s road cycling champion and FDJ Nouvelle-Aqutaine Futuroscope rider Évita Muzic, Amaury Sport Organization director Aurore Amaury and Zwift director of women’s strategy Kate Veronneau.
At the countdown, Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) guests spoke of the monumental importance of the revived Tour de France Femme. Professional women cyclists now have opportunities to compete in the highest profile races such as this weekend’s Paris Roubaix, as well as the Tour de France Femme.
Tour de France Femme director and former French national cycling champion Marion Rousse enthusiastically told the audience of supporters, “And finally, at 100 days (from the start), to find ourselves at the Arc de Triomphe where we will pass many times, we can say that it’s happening, it’s here – the Tour de France Femmes! I won’t be there as a cyclist, but as the director, it’s incredibly exciting.”
Current French national champion Évita Muzic is also excited to race the Tour as the local favorite. “I think that my family can come as well as lots of people from the region,” she said. “I hope to see big crowds on the roadside to encourage us.”
Zwift, who wants to help put women’s racing on an equal footing with men’s, spoke of their new partnership with ASO and women’s cycling. “Tour de France and Zwift is a very curious partnership – ASO, the historic institution that upholds the most sacred traditions of cycling, partnering with Zwift the online platform that invites riders to race and train in the virtual world,” said Kate Veronneau, Zwift director of women’s strategy.
Veronneau added that following the pandemic and Zwift’s rapid growth, “We recognized our shared vision to grow and elevate women’s cycling and with that the Tour de France Femme avec Zwift was conceived.”
Tour de France partner Santini Cycling CEO Monica Santini was also on hand to showcase the official leaders jerseys.
Monica Santini, CEO of Santini, the official partner to supply the leader jerseys to the Tour de France Femme.
“We are excited to have the Tour de France Femme as a first-time race for the girls,” said Santini. “Women’s racing is an important element of Santini’s production and communication. We are a female-owned company, owned by my sister and I, and 75% of our employees are women. For us to develop clothing for girls has always been part of our DNA because it’s part of what we do every day. We are super excited that finally the world is waking up to women’s cycling; people are following the races on TV and can actually follow their champions on TV exactly like they do the men.”
And so the countdown to the Tour de France Femme avec Zwift begins, J-100, 99, …
“The women’s world peloton is so dynamic and vibrant.” said Veronneau. “When they take the stage for the Tour de France Femme avec Zwift this summer, the world will watch and the next generation of champions will be inspired.”