Tour de France Women – Audrey Cordon-Ragot: “A three-week Tour would be physically unmanageable”


Tour de France Women – Audrey Cordon-Ragot: “A three-week Tour would be physically unmanageable”
Written by madishthestylebar

Vicky Carbonneau: What qualities do you need to succeed in this sport?

Audrey Cordon-Ragot: Today, women’s cycling is a fairly closed sport, with very few places to do it as a job. I always campaign for girls to continue to go to school and study, while cycling at the same time. We see fairly quickly if we have the skills to move to the next level.

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What is the most difficult in this sport?

AC-R: For me, it’s the distance from the family and from my partner. The older I get, the harder I find it. Cycling requires a lot of sacrifice and training. Physically, it’s tough. Cycling is a real career choice.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek-Segafredo), during the 2nd stage of the Tour de France women 2022

Credit: Getty Images

Did you dream of becoming a professional cyclist?

AC-R: I couldn’t dream of being a professional cyclist, that didn’t exist! I built myself with the image of male cyclists, without imagining that one day I could be in their shoes. There were no publicized female cyclists. So I pursued studies in real estate. Then things started to change, it was in 2009. Things were put in place so that women could do high-level cycling. And the federation helped me. I was able to find a part-time job, then a quarter-time job, which allowed me to train and go to the races. And that’s when I was able to start projecting myself, and telling myself that I could go further. (…)

Many times, teams don’t appreciate cyclists being pregnant, and they pressure these women to quit.

Tell us about your fight.

AC-R: In 2021, not without difficulty, we obtained from the federation that the girls who race in World Tour teams obtain a professional license (like the men). But the ultimate goal is that, within the next five years, all these girls in continental teams can have a professional license, as well as a management of women’s professional cycling, as the men have with the National Cycling League.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot at the start of the women’s Tour de France, July 24, 2022 in Paris

Credit: Getty Images

And on the maternity side, how is it going?

AC-R: The UCI recently introduced a rule allowing athletes to return after their pregnancy and the birth of their child. But the reality is quite different. Many times, teams don’t appreciate cyclists being pregnant, and they pressure these women to quit. But there are teams like Trek-Segafredo that are cutting edge on the subject.

Lizzie Deignan had to leave her previous team when she announced her pregnancy, and Trek-Segafredo jumped at the chance to ask her to join the team, first as a brand ambassador and then as a rider. She still won four monuments in her season when she returned from maternity leave. The bet was very successful!

I have in mind another cyclist who made a very good comeback after giving birth to her child: it is the Frenchwoman Pascale Jeuland. But girls still think a lot before considering pregnancy. And they dare not take the risk, for fear of not finding the stability to raise a child.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot, August 30, 2021

Credit: Getty Images

What other fight do you think is important to lead in women’s cycling?

AC-R: I think the Tour de France was the most important battle, in the sense that it is surely the most broadcast race in the world. We absolutely needed this global event, one of the most watched on television. It will bring sponsors, which will therefore allow women’s cycling to grow.

This is real good news. It’s important to keep women’s races that have been around for years. They are part of the history of women’s cycling. It would be a shame if we were put in races that are currently only for men, and which would conflict in the calendar with races that we have been used to running for years. I am thinking in particular of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda. I am delighted to have new races like Paris-Roubaix, which do not confront other races that have existed for years, but I do not want women’s cycling to be distorted either.

A three-week Tour would be physically unmanageable. The current level is not homogeneous enough

With the development of women’s cycling, how to increase the level of athletes and the number of riders in the teams?

AC-R: We have to work on the structure at the amateur level, allow the national divisions to run more so that the girls make their grades, and it is this breeding ground that will then move on to the next level.

Are you upset that some races are gender-specific, and women have fewer miles to run?

AC-R: We have to evolve with the times. Half of the current peloton could do a three-week Tour de France, but another part is still studying and/or does not have the means to prepare for such a race. To prepare for a race like this, you have to give yourself a month of preparation, a month during which you don’t run, where you only train and recognize the stages.

Today, in the women’s teams, we are thirteen riders, knowing that there are six of us per race, and that the calendar continues during the preparation for a Tour. So that would mean that the other six girls would have to do all the other shopping during the month of preparation. It is complicated. We are not numerous enough in the teams.

We must remain objective about what we are today, that is to say small teams which can prepare for a Giro or a Tour de France in ten days, but three weeks would be physically unmanageable. The current level is not homogeneous enough for that. Men are more numerous in their teams.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot

Credit: Getty Images

How is the way of running between men and women different?

AC-R: I would compare our way of running to what we find in the first amateur category for men, where the races are much shorter, between 120 and 160 km, and where it starts at full speed, and it rolls at full speed. all the time. We are not at all in the same way of running, since they will leave at a more leisurely pace, knowing that they have 250 kilometers to cover.

Find other testimonials from women whose voice counts in the world of cycling in the book “En Danseuse” by Vicky Carbonneau (ed. Amphora).

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