Uneasy rider: Laura Trott questions Le Tour for women

Olympian thinks a female version of the race should not just mirror the men's

Britain's most high-profile women's cyclist has refused to endorse the petition calling for women to be included in the Tour de France next year.

Laura Trott has been at the forefront of the extraordinary take-up in women's cycling since last summer but is not among those who want the Tour to bow to moves to prematurely ditch its 100-year format in the interests of equality.

Trott's Olympic teammate Emma Pooley and Dutch Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos have been at the front of the campaign to convince the race organisers ASO to change. Their petition to Tour director Christian Prudhomme has topped 90,000 signatures and is still climbing this weekend.

But though Labour Party deputy leader Harriet Harman's open letter to Prudhomme has reinforced that demand, Trott insisted that the petition had been ill conceived, even suggesting that the women's Tour de France as envisaged by the two Olympians threatens to damage the infrastructure of women's cycling, rather than benefit it. "The little petition that was put out by Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos just hadn't been thought through very well," she said. "It's all well and good having a women's Tour de France – which I think we need and I think we should have. But I think we should slowly build it in and not just go 'bam' with three weeks over the same course and same length of time as the men's."

That is the idea being proposed by Pooley and Vos who believe the women should ride the same Tour course as the men each day, whisking through the villages and towns and scaling the peaks in front of the cycling fans who congregate in their millions to see the men rattling through ahead of the legendary cavalcade of promotional vehicles. The petition states: "After a century, it is about time women are allowed to race the Tour de France, too. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men's event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender's race interferes with the other."

Pooley has said she was "sure I could finish [the race]. I know I could do the distance," though current rules governing world cycling prevent women from cycling as far as men in a single stage.

But Trott believes that if the women mirror the men's event by going out in front the men will simply catch them up – and if they follow the men through the course, the crowds will have begun to disappear when the women race. She is also concerned that women's cycling should not forget the small events, with their myriad sponsors, who have supported the women and given them an arena during the three weeks of the Tour de France. They include Belgium's La Fleche Wallone and the Gent-Wevelgem race in Flanders. "We've got valuable sponsors in those races," said Trott. "The women's Giro d'Italia has also been running in July for years and it's not fair to say to them 'look we're going to put a women's Tour de France on now and forget your race.' People are not thinking about the knock-on effect. If we follow the little petition they put out, the smaller races fall away and the smaller teams that turn up at those races lose their sponsors because they're not racing for those three weeks. So, it just hadn't been thought through. I think we should slowly build it up instead."

Trott visualises two one-day stage races coinciding with the men's Tour, to take place on the men's two rest days. As she sees it, one stage could finish up the Alps – even the Alpe d'Huez, despite the size of that task – and another flatter stage on the Champs-Elysees. "A Tour de France needs to be introduced slowly into women's cycling," the 21-year-old said. "You can't just immediately expect it to be what the men's is. Remember that 20 or 30 years ago the men's Tour wasn't what it is today. I do think people are forgetting that."

Dani King, another British Olympic gold medallist on the track, echoes her concerns. "They work really well because they've all got the infrastructure in place," she said. "The women start earlier than the men on the same course and we do a shorter route because all the crowds are there and the media. It will be good to have a women's Tour in the future but we should work more slowly and not go too fast, too soon."

Trott was racing in France this week, as she continues her build up to the European track cycling championships at Apeldoorn, in the Netherlands, in October. "The world has become a different place for British women's cycling," she said.

Laura Trott and Dani King were riding at the 'Ride With Brad Sportive' in Lancashire, held in aid of the Bradley Wiggins Foundation

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...