The reintroduction of the women’s Tour de France this year has the potential to dramatically change women’s cycling. Running from the 24th-31st July, the eight-day stage race will be televised from start to finish by Eurosport/GCN+. It’s widely believed that live coverage of races is the most important factor in growing the sport – it allows fans to engage with the races and support their favourite riders, while also giving an opportunity for teams to return their sponsor’s investment via exposure to a large audience.
British team Le Col-Wahoo has secured a wildcard place in the Tour de France this year after punching above their weight in multiple seasons with gutsy, attacking racing. Despite only being a Continental level team, Le Col-Wahoo constantly animate races against bigger budget WorldTour outfits. Their fighting spirit caught the attention of Tour de France Femmes organisers ASO who offered the team a spot to showcase their talents on the biggest stage of them all.
The team, notably general manger Tom Varney, have always had an acute awareness of the wider state of women’s cycling, understanding that building a successful team goes beyond just race results. Le Col-Wahoo were one of the first teams to introduce a rider wellness programme last year, and they push an ethos of creating well-rounded athletes both on and off the bike.
Having been part of the women’s professional peloton since 2016, they are also in tune with the steps needed to develop the sport further, and see reaching a wider audience as the answer to this. It’s why they have purchased 10,000 GCN+ passes to hand out to fans across the UK to watch the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, aiming to raise awareness of how exciting women’s road racing is and inspire people to take up the sport themselves.
Team manager Varney explained: “We’re thrilled to be able to offer 10,000 fans the opportunity to view the Tour de France Femmes for free this month. Spearheaded by our title sponsor, Le Col, huge brands like GCN and Wahoo have rallied together to make our beautiful sport more accessible. Whilst there is still a long way to go in gaining parity to the men's race, we hope making these passes available will help inspire more women to follow, and perhaps even try out, women’s road racing.”
Lizze Holden, one of the team's main GC hopefuls for the race, echoes Varney’s sentiment. “It’s absolutely amazing to be part of a team that is trying to push the boundaries of women's road racing,” she explained. “I can remember watching the men's race on TV as a young girl. Whilst I found it hugely exciting, the lack of a female edition meant it was hard to ever visualise myself doing something similar. When trying to grow the sport, it’s so important to showcase role models that can inspire the next generation riders. Thanks to our title sponsors Le Col and Wahoo - as well as GCN+ - we hope these passes will go some way in doing that.”
Having the support of British fans cheering the riders on from their sofas at home will no doubt give Le Col-Wahoo that extra bit of motivation to race even harder when the race begins on Sunday.
The special 8-day GCN+ passes can be applied for on the team’s website here. The first 10,000 fans will be sent a code to activate on GCN+. The codes are only for those based in the UK and can be redeemed at any point between 23rd-31st July - meaning fans can watch every stage live, or on catch-up. The exciting and inspiration initiative is comes under Le Col-Wahoo’s tagline: #MoreEyesOnHer.