On July 27, hours before the men’s peloton traveled down the Champs-Élysées and Marcel Kittel battled Alexander Kristoff to win the final stage of the 2014 Tour de France, the women were the first to cross the finish line. Marianne Vos (Rabo Liv) would take the win, but in the inaugural La Course, victory belonged to more than the race’s champion. Though not the hardest, the longest, or even the most interesting event on the pro women’s calendar, the 90-kilometer circuit race represented two things the women’s peloton has been desperately short on for much of its history: recognition, and hope for the future.
Tayler Wiles, a 25-year-old native of Salt Lake City, Utah, riding for Specialized-Lululemon, says it’s no secret that the women want their own multi-stage Tour de France. But she, like most of the women who competed in La Course, felt honored to be part of the one-day race. A small contingent of female pro cyclists and advocates for the sport had nearly waged war to regain a place for the women in the Tour, and that fight had been successful. La Course would be broadcast in 157 countries. The winner would earn the same $31,000 payout as the men’s stage winner. Wiles voiced the thoughts of many when she called La Course “a big step in the right direction.”
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