Europe

“The impact of the women’s Tour de France goes far beyond sport”

Published on : Modified :

After a short professional career and a title of champion of France in 2012, Marion Rousse is now a key figure in cycling. Having become one of the voices of the discipline on television, she is also the director of the women’s Tour de France, organized for the first time professionally in 2022. Exclusive interview for France 24.

She is part of this “lost generation” of runners who have never been able to run the Tour de France. Marion Rousse, former French road cycling champion, will officiate from July 24 to 31 as director of the first professional women’s Grande Boucle in history. “A pride also” for the one who is a consultant all year round for France Télévisions, broadcaster of the event.

>> To read also: Tour de France: who is Marion Rousse, the director of the women’s race?

France 24 met Marion Rousse on June 25 during the French road cycling championships. The native of the North, in a relationship with the cyclist Julian Alaphilippe, has the particular objective of making this women’s Tour de France with Zwift [plateforme mondiale de fitness en ligne] a commendable and therefore lasting event for the next 100 years to come. Above all, she hopes that this Grande Boucle will create vocations.

France 24: The big day is approaching. Appointed director of the Women’s Tour de France, what does this function represent for you?

Marion Rousse: This position of director of the Tour, it represents many things. There is a lot of pride. When it was offered to me, I saw myself again at the age of six, starting the bike… I remembered the path traveled. I who have never been able to participate in the Tour de France, I am delighted to have a role in this grandiose event.

>> See also the program ActuElles: The return of the Tour de France Women, a major step for women’s cycling

This women’s Tour de France lasts only one week, compared to three for the men’s Tour. How do you explain this difference?

Sportingly speaking, the girls would be able to last three weeks. The Giro Donne (Women’s Tour of Italy, NLDR) is also a little longer than the Tour de France and already has ten stages. However, we must compare what is comparable and this is not the case when we measure ourselves against what is done among men.

In the men’s teams there are about 30 riders. So they can afford to send teams to several fronts. In the women’s teams, there are only about ten runners. So if the TDF blocked three weeks of the competition calendar, it would be to the detriment of other courses. We don’t want that.

We must also see that the ecosystem of women’s cycling remains weak. So don’t think too big. We want to still be here in 100 years. So we want to start with eight days. However, this long week will take place under the same conditions as the men, with the caravan on all stages, accommodation under the same conditions as them. And we are not closing the door to a longer duration of the Tour de France Women in the future.

Beyond the sporting aspect, do you also give yourself the objective of creating vocations?

There are no words for the impact this Tour de France can have on women’s cycling. Whether for men or now for women, the impact of this race goes far beyond support.

The cycling world is gradually becoming more feminized. Personally, I’m proud of the idea that little girls will be on the side of the road in July to catch a glimpse of the Tour. They will finally be able to identify with champions. Me, when I went to see the stages of the Tour and I trained in the evening by redoing the race, I identified myself with Robbie McEwen (Australian rider three times winner of the green jersey in the points classification between 2002 and 2006, NLDR ). They will finally have female role models.

Some see this Tour as an attempt at “feminismwashing” (a feminism of opportunism), what do you say to these detractors?

I would like to point out to them that the organizing structure, ASO, is not at its first attempt in terms of women’s cycling. He has been promoting it for a while now: Tour du Qatar, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne and now Paris-Roubaix. We are in continuity.

I was mindful of that when I was offered the job. I wanted this race to be the equal of men and not a secondary race. Christian Prudhomme, the director of the men’s Grande Boucle, is just as involved in the smooth running of the women’s Tour. We want the Tour de France to be our big brother and to become a real 4th week of the Tour.

Europe 1

Back to top button