Early last month Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme made the long-awaited announcement that Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will launch a women’s Tour de France in 2022. Dubbed Tour de France Femmes, the race will take place in the week following the men’s Tour de France, and last 8 days (July 24-July 31).
Prudhomme said, “It would have happened this year if it had not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, obviously, and above all if the Tokyo Olympics had not been after the [men’s] Tour, so the best riders may not be available. But the decision has been taken. There will be a Tour de France femmes in 2022 following closely after the [men’s] Tour.”
This was big news in the cycling world, as women only had the one-day La Course by Le Tour de France race in prior years. Upgrading to an 8-day race is a huge step up, especially considering that the Tour de France is the most watched annual sporting event in the world.
Today, Zwift announced it has reached a four-year deal with ASO to become the presenting partner of “Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift”. It’s a logical step in Zwift’s vision to grow women’s cycling and its own subscriber base. The ASO and Zwift clearly have high hopes for their partnership and the future of the race, as their press release states:
The Tour de France is the most watched annual sporting event in the world. The aspiration of Zwift and the A.S.O. is to elevate the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift to the same heights, providing teams and riders a greater opportunity to showcase their talent on a global stage. Tackling the most challenging routes, taking on the most iconic climbs in France, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will establish a legacy that will help inspire the next generation of cyclists, year after year. The next generation of female champions will soon be displaying the camaraderie, strategy and grit it takes to put on the iconic yellow jersey.
Yann le Moënner, General Director of ASO said, “We are particularly glad to launch this new women’s race with a partner like Zwift, who have considerably developed cycling around the World thanks to their connected platform. We constructed a Virtual Tour de France together last year which turned out to be an immense success. Our respective teams learned to work together and now target the same objective: to develop women’s cycling by introducing an unmissable event, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift.”
As Yann said, Zwift has worked closely with ASO on TdF-related projects in the past, culminating in last year’s first-ever Virtual Tour de France. It seems fitting that the two organizations would work together on this next groundbreaking project given Zwift’s history of championing women’s racing via parity in broadcasting, prizes, and more.
Broadcast coverage of women’s racing has often lacked in the past, but according to ASO, Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift should be different:
In terms of media exposure, the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift will benefit from daily live television coverage with a broad exposure all over the world. France Télévisions will extend its “afternoon of cycling” coverage of the Tour de France by one week to allow viewers the chance to support their champions. In addition, an agreement with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) will mean that the event will be broadcast on large public channels in the biggest European markets.
An ambitious and complete communication plan will accompany the new race’s official launch presentation in October right up until it starts on the 24th July 2022.