The first proper women’s Tour de France, an eight-day race which will conclude on La Super Planche des Belles Filles on July 31, will begin in Paris this Sunday, a few hours before the men’s race rolls into town.
Since 2014, the Amaury Sports Organisation who run the Tour had staged La Course, a one or two-day race which Deignan won in 2020, but the event attracted much criticism for being “tokenistic”.
The fact demands for a proper event have finally been answered is, Deignan believes, representative of broader changes.
“I think we’re at a turning point in society in terms of women’s equality,” Deignan told the PA news agency. “There’s a continuous fight that will never stop but I think the age of social media has made people more accountable.
“People are able to call out inequalities more easily so women have got more of their own voice to be able to challenge things.
“Whenever a race has been badly organised or not at all, there has been a backlash.”
Backed by virtual cycling platform Zwift, the Tour de France Femmes will offer 250,000 euros (£213,000) in prize money to the 144 women who will race over 1,029 kilometres in eight days.
The fight for yellow will come down to the final weekend in the mountains but before then riders will tackle gravel on stage four, and a 176km long stage five from Bar-le-Duc to Saint-die-des-Vosges which is the longest day to ever feature in the