Tour de France 2013: This Year's Race Should Be Last to Prohibit Women Cyclists

Alex HallCorrespondent IIIJuly 13, 2013

SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND, FRANCE - JULY 12:  Mark Cavendish of Great Britain riding for Omega Pharma-Quick Step celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win stage thirteen of the 2013 Tour de France, a 173KM road stage from Tours to Saint-Amand-Montrond on July 12, 2013 in Saint-Amand-Montrond, France.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Tour de France is easily the Daytona 500 of cycling. For 100 years, the race has captivated the cycling world each year but never has a woman been allowed to participate.

That needs to change as soon as possible.

As reported by NPR's Bill Chappell, a petition has been started by cyclist and journalist Kathryn Bertine to include women in the race next year.

Others who support the cause include Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley. Vos took gold at the 2012 London Olympics in the women's road race. Pooley also competed in the road race in London for Great Britain.

The petition states that road cycling is one of the "worst offenders" of inequity in sports. Aside from the failed Tour Feminin, there has been little effort by the sport to showcase women in the Tour de France.

Bertine, Vos, Pooley and others should not have to start some viral campaign to achieve their goal of racing in the Tour de France. Considering it is 2013, women should already be able to race in the Tour or at least have an equivalent.

If the Olympics feature women's road cycling as well as races like the Tour of Flanders, there is no reason why the Tour de France doesn't.

Some against the notion of women racing in the Tour might argue that adding more participants isn't possible due to the already large number of cyclists.

Pooley shared her response to this idea with Chappell. "To be honest, the Tour de France is such a huge logistical challenge anyway, that adding 50 or 70 women wouldn't make a huge difference," she said.

If the challenge of adding female racers to an already large field was too difficult for Tour de France organizers, just add a women's race to the docket.

Obviously, the men's and women's races couldn't take place during the same time frame, but having one race in June and the other in July each year isn't impossible. In fact, holding two Tour de Frances would likely generate more excitement in the sport.

A sport as new and growing as mixed martial arts and another deep in tradition like boxing have already created women's divisions. Road cycling even has events for women already, but for some reason doesn't have a women's Tour de France.

Women cyclists deserve their chance to race in the sport's biggest event.