By SOPHIA ROTHMAN, age 11
On July 27, 2014, for the first time in history, women competed on the same track as men do in the Tour de France. The Tour de France is one of the world’s most famous bicycle races, started in 1903 as a race for men only. It is a demanding course which includes 21 stages that add up to about 2,200 miles.
Women cyclists want a full-length tour on the same track as the men to prove that they too can go the distance. Kathryn Bertine, (a racing cyclist, writer and filmmaker), and three other professional cyclists gathered more than 97,000 signatures to try to make that happen. Tour de France officials responded by creating one 57-mile stage, called La Course. While some cyclists were disappointed with the shorter race, the fact that it takes place on the last day of the Tour de France means that women cyclists will gain more media attention than ever before.
The winner of La Course was Marianne Vos of the Netherlands. Her prize was 22,500 euros (about $30,000), the same amount for winning one stage in the men’s race. Very few cyclists have reached her level of success and she has won many world titles in cyclocross (cross country racing), road and track.
Cycling’s governing body still limits women from racing in an event that lasts more than 10 days. Speaking with IndyKids, Jennifer Benepe, an avid cyclist and entrepreneur of Cyclists International and Hot Velociti, said, “women cyclists should definitely take the 10 days and race like there’s no tomorrow… and then ask for another day perhaps every 2 years.”