June 28, 2022
WRITTEN BY:
Melinda Head

The Race to Cycling Equality

Bring it on

Say the words “Tour de France” and everyone knows what that means. Everyone.

It’s a marketing marvel that began in 1903 as a promotional initiative. Did you know that the highly coveted yellow jersey is yellow because that was the color of the newsprint used by its publishing founder?

The Tour de France yellow jersey has its origins in the color of this early 1900s publication

“Crashing is part of cycling, as crying is part of love.” (Cyclist Johan Museeuw)

“The race is won by the rider who can suffer the most.” (Cyclist Eddy Merckx)

The multi-stage race starts at a different place each year, but always ends at the iconic Champs-Élysées in Paris.

In this 109th edition of the Tour de France, the course winds through some of the most beautiful areas of Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium and France, parts of which cyclist Bob Roll has described as “an abyss of lactic-acid-crippling haze”.

The race starts on July 1st in Copenhagen and ends in Paris on July 24th. Twenty-two teams (2 from the U.S.), each with up to 9 riders, will push themselves to the limit as they complete 21 stages on 3,349.8 km (2,018.5 miles) of flat, cobbled, hilly and mountainous terrain over 24 days.

“When your legs scream stop and your lungs are bursting, that’s when it starts. That’s the hurt locker. Winners love it in there.” (Cyclist Chris McCormack)

You can play your own Tour de France Fantasy game here.

Formerly known as the Tour de France Féminin (1984-89), the inaugural edition of the new Tour de France Femmes will kick off from the foot of the Eiffel Tower as the men hang up their cleats, and will end 8 days later on July 31st atop La Planche des Belles Filles in the Vosges Mountains. Twenty-four female teams (3 from the U.S.) with 6 riders each will cover 1,029 km (639 miles), including a 12.9 km stretch across chalky gravel tracks known as “white roads”, which wind through the vineyards of Champagne.

A total of €250,000 will be awarded to the women, including €50,000 to the winner of the final general classification. How does this compare to the men? They have a €2.3 million pot, with €500,000 going to the man who takes the yellow jersey in Paris.

Let’s do some math. Women will cover about 1/3 the distance of men, yet the prize pot is only 10% as large. The Tour de France Femmes winner will receive 10 cents for every $1 earned by her male yellow jersey counterpart. Welcome to the glass ceiling, a term coined by American consultant Marilyn Loden in 1978 that is every bit as relevant today as it was 44 years ago. As audiences grow, the pot will grow – so be sure to watch the event (see details below).

American Marilyn Loden coined the term “glass ceiling”

What’s the next step? As cyclist Kathryn Bertine has suggested, the Tour de France Femmes “needs 2 more weeks to be added (to the event) … or, perhaps we can cut the men’s race from 3 weeks to 8 days”.

It has been a long haul for female cyclists and all American women suffered another assault this past week when Roe v Wade was overturned, and their reproductive rights were abolished.

It is time for all of us to stand up, both women and men, for equality. As Bertine said: “If we hold up half the sky, we deserve half the road”. I couldn’t agree more. What about you?

If your device is physically located in the U.S., you can live stream the Tour de France and the Tour de France Femmes on Peacock Premium ($4.99 per month or $9.99 without ads, a free 7-day trial is available) or watch delayed coverage on CNBC (in the USA and Canada). For Canadian audiences, we do not recommend streaming service FloBikes, which has much higher subscription fees and questionable subscription practices.

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About the Author

A serial entrepreneur, Melinda is a sociologist and statistician who believes there is no currency with greater value than knowledge

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