Tour de France Women: Lizzie Holden says race revival will witness eight days of ‘aggressive racing’ | Cycling News
Holden thinks eight days of racing is long enough and good viewing for fans amid talk of whether to match the men’s schedule – “I hear most men say three weeks is incredibly long”; The British cyclist wants to focus on growing the sport and believes a new event will come to the right place
By Vicki Hodges
Last update: 24/07/22 11:11
British cyclist Lizzie Holden said the return of the Tour de France Women would show how shorter stages can produce more “exciting” and “aggressive” races and questioned the value of races that span weeks.
It has been more than 30 years since the last official women’s Tour de France was organized by the Tour organisers. As other races have been launched during this period, excitement is building ahead of Sunday’s opening stage on the streets of Paris for the all-new race following the conclusion of the men’s Tour.
It’s a historic moment that Holden, born and bred on the Isle of Man, is eager to be a part of – even if the brutal eight-day race stretching some 1,029km across France with gravel sections and back-to-back mountain stages will push the field of 24 world-class teams to the limits.
The women’s version may have 13 fewer stages than the men’s race, which was first held in 1903, but Holden believes the talks are over whether the women’s race should mimic the same format and course three weeks that men must turn to science.
“Some women would like to run for three weeks, but for me personally eight days is still a lot,” said Holden, who is part of the six-woman British team Le Col Wahoo. Sky Sports News.
“If you ask the men, they would also say eight days is enough. I hear most of them say that three weeks (for the Tour de France) is incredibly long.
“At the end of the day, there is science to consider. I am not a scientist, but you must understand that there are factors that limit us as women. This is not an opinion – it is science.
“I think eight days will be enough. I think women’s cycling is very exciting to watch because it’s mostly shorter stages, it allows us to be more aggressive throughout the race and to attack.”
In fact, having grown up on the Isle of Man and the daughter of former pro Rob Holden, the 24-year-old couldn’t quite imagine the day she could ride at the pinnacle of professional cycling.
During her school days, she was often asked if she would ever take part in the Tour de France – only for reality to hit home.
“I grew up watching the Tour on TV. It was on from start to finish and then I would watch the highlights in the evening. It was non-stop,” she said.
“When I was younger I didn’t think ‘oh, these are just men’s races’. I always loved cycling and when people asked me at school ‘are you going to do the Tour de France,” I always said, “well, that’s actually not possible.” Now we have an event, so that’s a big change.”
In recent years, La Course, launched in 2014, has seen runners compete in the one-day race on the Champs-Elysées before the final stage of the men’s race.
“These races felt different,” said Holden, who has earned five top-10 finishes on the World Tour calendar this year. “They were at the start of the Men’s Tour, so it’s good that you had the vibe, but you always felt like a bit of a sideshow. No one knew what it was or what was going on. The Women’s Tour has been very well publicized, every time I watch the Tour now it comes across as an advertisement. I think it’s going to be really big.
There are challenges that come with life on the road. The periods of isolation, the difficulty sleeping, the passages from hotel bed to hotel bed, the endless bowls of pasta. Holden says she can no longer travel without her earplugs, eye mask and other household comforts such as her own pillow.
His family won’t be able to cheer him on in France, but they can’t wait to meet them in Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games after the Tour concludes.
“There will be no downtime after the Tour as I head straight to Birmingham. But I am lucky to be at another great event.
“I will probably catch up with Mark Cavendish there. When I started racing at the age of 12, I went with my father to the local clubs and was constantly surrounded by professional cyclists like Mark and Pete Kennaugh. It was so exciting to see them and ride with them. It’s helped me a lot in my career.
There may be no respite in Holden’s schedule right now, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. If it grows the sport she loves and inspires the next generation, it was worth it.
That’s the main focus for the Manx rider, who doesn’t think talk of the prize money disparity – which currently sees this year’s male winner earning £430,000 to the female champion’s £41,746 – should be a priority. absolute.
“With the whole Tour on TV every day, I hope the fan base will grow and more people will be interested in the sport. This is the most important thing for women’s cycling at the moment.
“People keep asking about the prize money and all but that’s not the most important factor, we still need the following and once that grows more sponsors will want be involved and the sport in general will grow.”
The Tour de Femmes starts this Sunday July 24 at 12:30 p.m. with an 82km stage from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs-Elysées