The Tour de France Women will start on July 24

fOr for the first time since the 80s, the women’s Tour de France long-distance cycling race will take place this summer. It starts this Sunday, July 24, in Paris and 24 elite teams will race against each other through the fields and mountains of France. They will cover 1,035.5 kilometers in eight days to cross the finish line on July 31.

This time, however, the Tour de France Femmes looks a little different. For one, it’s presented by the virtual racing platform Zwift, and is officially called the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift. There is a significantly larger amount of prize money available than in the 80s. According to VeloNews, it is the richest women’s race in history, with an available purse of €250,000 (about $255,000).

By contrast, when Marianne Martin won the Tour de France Femmes in 1984, she received only $1,000, which she shared with her entire team. That same year, the winner of the men’s Tour de France received $200,000. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap has not closed for decades. The prize money for the 2022 Tour de France Femmes may be historic, but it pales in comparison to the men’s Tour de France 2022 purse: €2.3 million.

According to Martin, the prize is not just an added bonus for winning a race – it can make or break a cyclist’s career as qualifying for an elite race means first traveling to smaller races around the world to compete, plus the cost of training and equipment. “I never raced for money, but I had to stop running for lack of it,” Martin said.

There is still a long way to go when it comes to tackling gender inequality in sports (and in general). And to help raise awareness of this fact, digital platform Strava, a mobile app that connects runners and cyclists with online communities and challenges, has partnered with the Tour de France and Zwift and pledged $1 million for equity in professional sports. The first part of that pledge is going to the Cyclists Alliance, an independent union representing more than 220 riders advocating for equal pay and better working conditions.

For your part, one of the best ways to support these incredible athletes is to attend the competition. In the US, you can watch cycling action streaming on Peacock. Good luck, cyclists!

If you’re looking to train for your own bicycle race, whether it’s the Tour de France or the Tour de Living Room, here’s a strengthening and stretching yoga flow designed specifically for cyclists.

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