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Old 07-09-14, 12:45 AM   #1
gpsblake
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Wife asked me a question "could a woman ride the Tour de France"

I told her there would be no way a woman could win a stage nor help any teammates. However, she did ask me a good followup. She asked, what if a team would just put a woman in with the only goal of her finishing each stage.

Which was an interesting question, what if one of the wild card teams with no shot of winning GC or even a stage would put a woman on the team. The woman would have only one goal, to finish the stage within the time limit of being cut off without helping her team mates at all. In other words, ride the end of the peloton each race and ride with the slow sprinters up the mountains. I know she would have to time trial within a certain cut off point also and I would expect her to get dropped at the end of the sprinter stages when they pick up the pace.

I know there isn't anything close to a 21 day women's racing tour, but I am just curious if a wild card would put a woman on just to get her jersey and name all over the television and media, would she finish the tour?
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Old 07-09-14, 02:03 AM   #2
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I cannot see it happening. The wild card teams you speak of try to make a showing just so they might be invited again. It is a pretty select group. Ask David Millar what he thinks.
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Old 07-09-14, 04:17 AM   #3
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I'm sure that when God decides to make a woman who can hang with the pro peleton, any team would love to have her. Imagine the media attention. But it hasn't happened yet.
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Old 07-09-14, 06:26 AM   #4
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when you reach the top of the athletic food chain in both men and women the women will be at a distinct disadvantage. Smaller muscle mass and lower aerobic capacity. They would be way behind. I think a lot would be injured.

I still love women though and marvel and what some of the best female extreme athletes can accomplish.
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Old 07-09-14, 07:28 AM   #5
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The women are busy with the Giro Rosa right now.
Vos leads Giro Rosa after prologue, two opening stages - VeloNews.com
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Old 07-09-14, 09:05 AM   #6
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Women have raced in pro continental races, but not ProTour / WorldTour races.
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Old 07-09-14, 09:48 AM   #7
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My 14 y.o. daughter asked me the same thing.

Of course she also asked me if some people who don't drive could ride with the peloton just to get from one place to another faster.

And two years ago, when I explained to her that the race leader wears the yellow jersey, she asked me how they switch while they're riding.

Kid comes out with some funny stuff.

When she asked if I am as fast as those riders, I told her I absolutely am that fast. hahaha. I guess the camera takes 20 mph off the apparent speed.
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Old 07-09-14, 10:47 AM   #8
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Did you tell her no?
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Old 07-09-14, 11:07 AM   #9
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there was a TdF Feminine, separate race.. Tour de France Féminin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Until 'The race was discontinued after 2009'..


I think there are 'Tifosi' tour companies , for the fans over the same routes,
but of course the roads are not closed to general traffic, then..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-09-14 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 07-09-14, 11:12 AM   #10
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Just saying...

https://www.raceacrossamerica.org/us...RAAM%20HoF.pdf
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Old 07-09-14, 11:13 AM   #11
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The biology of this is tough.... to be a TDF-competitive sprinter requires huge muscle mass and brute strength and woman are at a big disadvantage here. A woman's smaller size could work in their favor for climbing stages, but they're carrying around a little extra baggage for handling childbirth and child-rearing where grams count. IOW, it's not impossible that a woman could be competitive, but they start out with big disadvantages.

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Old 07-09-14, 12:38 PM   #12
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There's a reason for both men's and women's sports to be segregated and it's all about the inherent physical characteristics of each sex. Unless you handicap the competition somehow, the men will be stronger, faster and quicker. Not sexist, just the way it is.

Remember when Billy Jean King played Bobby Riggs (BJK won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3)? Granted, it was a publicity stunt, but I still wonder to this day...if you took the #1 ranked female tennis player, how would she do against the #1 male player? How about the #1 0 player? #1 00?

Marian Vos has been dominating women's cycling for years. She'd kick the butt of every rider I've ever ridden with. But as a Pro rider, how would she fare against a field of Cat 1 men? Cat 2 men?
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Old 07-09-14, 12:58 PM   #13
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Years ago a young woman who was a pro duathlete for a short while trained with us. At the time, Lothar Leder along with another pro triathlete were also training with us. This was immediately before Lothar became the first guy to do an Ironman in under 8hrs. She could leave Lothar & the rest of us behind on the bike in all the climbs while singing. She couldn't time trial on the flats as fast as he, but in a group with no time trial rules, she could hang with the male pros and out climb them.
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Old 07-09-14, 10:53 PM   #14
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What is interesting though, marathon racing.... I took a look at the London marathon final results... Sure a man won, but the women's winner would have finished 19th had she been classified with the men.

I wouldn't expect a woman to be competitive with the men at the highest level, I was just wondering if one could actually finish the race by not getting dropped from a time point.

Yes, women cyclist can be incredible, and many (or most) of them can make me feel I am standing still on my bike. I would like to see a women's tour race get some publicity, like the USA pro cycling challenge for example, why can't NBCSN take a gamble and promote a women's race?
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Old 07-10-14, 04:29 AM   #15
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What is interesting though, marathon racing.... I took a look at the London marathon final results... Sure a man won, but the women's winner would have finished 19th had she been classified with the men.
I wouldn't expect a woman to be competitive with the men at the highest level, I was just wondering if one could actually finish the race by not getting dropped from a time point.

Yes, women cyclist can be incredible, and many (or most) of them can make me feel I am standing still on my bike. I would like to see a women's tour race get some publicity, like the USA pro cycling challenge for example, why can't NBCSN take a gamble and promote a women's race?
I don't believe that running and cycling compare as well as you'd think. There's a lot more power involved in cycling, harder for the ladies.
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Old 07-10-14, 04:37 AM   #16
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There's a reason for both men's and women's sports to be segregated and it's all about the inherent physical characteristics of each sex. Unless you handicap the competition somehow, the men will be stronger, faster and quicker. Not sexist, just the way it is.

Remember when Billy Jean King played Bobby Riggs (BJK won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3)? Granted, it was a publicity stunt, but I still wonder to this day...if you took the #1 ranked female tennis player, how would she do against the #1 male player? How about the #1 0 player? #1 00?
Granted, the Williams sisters were quite young at the time, but: Battle of the Sexes (tennis) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 07-10-14, 05:15 AM   #17
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If you allowed women in the men's TdF then you'd have to allow men in women's stage races and that wouldn't be fair on the fairer sex.
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Old 07-10-14, 10:48 AM   #18
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If the goal is for the woman to simply finish within the time limit on each stage, then the flat stages should be no problem, she can shelter in the bunch so absent bad luck w/ a mechnical etc she can finish with the bunch. The challenge will be on the mountain stages and the time trials.

For the mountain stages, the woman will need enough watt/kg to keep up with the grupetto. See here for W/Kg of men vs women
Power-to-Weight Ratios: Bicycling Training | Bicycling Magazine
It suggests that the very best world tour-class pro woman has FT W/kg similar to the worst world tour men. So, with some drafting on the less steep grades, maybe she can hang with the grupetto.

The ITT might be too tough. Compare men's and women's speeds at the 2012 Olympic time trial. Men's course was 27 miles, best time 50 minutes (32.4 mph), worst time 59 min (27.5 mph). Women's course was 18 miles, best time 37 minutes (29.2 mph), worst time 42 min (25.7 mph). So the best woman, over a course a third shorter than the men's course, did a speed about 1.7 mph faster than the worst man. Over the full men's course, I am skeptical if she could even match the worst man's speed. So the question is, where is the time cutoff?

And then the TTT, if there is one. If the woman gets dropped early, can she continue solo to beat the time cutoff? Or will it be like poor Ted King in the 2013 TdF?
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Old 07-10-14, 11:11 AM   #19
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There are probably some ladies who could wheel suck along through most of the stages, and as a few folks mentioned they are less-relatively-impaired in climbs. Making the cut on a TT and getting back on after any kind of incident without a dedicated team would be the points of failure.

But what's the point?

The premise of a no name team doing it for the PR is pretty far out there. There may also be some rider licensing issues, I don't think you can just let anyone in even if you do have seating for 9 at the big dance.

I'm honestly not clear as to whether it is men's cycling by rule or simply an open class, chromosomes be damned (remember Babe the pig in the sheep dog trials?). When there is such a performance disparity, why split hairs. I would definitely have an alternate view if there was a woman who could clear the performance bar, but this is one of those sports where I don't see that happening. Although if it were to happen, I think it would have to be a female mountain goat that they'd drag through the flats and let her fly uphill. I'd be curious to see more real performance data to see if, for example, a lady could ever grab a few mountain points. Nice post, jyl.

I've spent way too much time watching gals slip into the distance on a climb. Good for them. But even the lard butts in the laughing bunch would drop me 17x harder, so that means nothing.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:30 AM   #20
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There's a reason for both men's and women's sports to be segregated and it's all about the inherent physical characteristics of each sex. Unless you handicap the competition somehow, the men will be stronger, faster and quicker. Not sexist, just the way it is.

Remember when Billy Jean King played Bobby Riggs (BJK won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3)? Granted, it was a publicity stunt, but I still wonder to this day..
Riggs vs. King.. sarcasm? If not, a little history.

A few months earlier, 55 year old Bobby Riggs had thrashed the #1 woman in the world Margaret Court. Against King, Bobby (a strong favorite at 5-2 odds) probably tanked the match in order to clear his gambling debts. Bobby was a proud champion, but he always had money on the line.

Better example is in 1998 when Serena and Venus naively boasted that they could beat any man in the top 200. German journeyman Karsten Braasch, ranked just outside the top 200, gave both sisters a major attitude correction. Braasch said he played like someone a few hundred rankings lower, and took a lot off of the serves to make things more interesting. Braasch also liked to smoke during changeovers.
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Old 07-21-14, 10:39 AM   #21
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If the goal is for the woman to simply finish within the time limit on each stage, then the flat stages should be no problem, she can shelter in the bunch so absent bad luck w/ a mechnical etc she can finish with the bunch. The challenge will be on the mountain stages and the time trials.

For the mountain stages, the woman will need enough watt/kg to keep up with the grupetto. See here for W/Kg of men vs women
Power-to-Weight Ratios: Bicycling Training | Bicycling Magazine
It suggests that the very best world tour-class pro woman has FT W/kg similar to the worst world tour men. So, with some drafting on the less steep grades, maybe she can hang with the grupetto.

The ITT might be too tough. Compare men's and women's speeds at the 2012 Olympic time trial. Men's course was 27 miles, best time 50 minutes (32.4 mph), worst time 59 min (27.5 mph). Women's course was 18 miles, best time 37 minutes (29.2 mph), worst time 42 min (25.7 mph). So the best woman, over a course a third shorter than the men's course, did a speed about 1.7 mph faster than the worst man. Over the full men's course, I am skeptical if she could even match the worst man's speed. So the question is, where is the time cutoff?

And then the TTT, if there is one. If the woman gets dropped early, can she continue solo to beat the time cutoff? Or will it be like poor Ted King in the 2013 TdF?
I believe the cutoff time is 1.25 times the time of the winner.

That is makeable.

IF the peloton favors a woman riding the tour one could finish and stay within the time limits. If not there is no way. The men ride hard on a flat stage and any wheel she tries to hold tries to drop her. She is toast.

Normally the guys off the back are all allies trying to beat the time limit. That would not be the case for anyone who the riders feel does not belong. And my gut feel is any female rider who gets an invite just for publicity (or anyone else who gets it for the same reason) would be someone the riders feel does not belong.

Last edited by Keith99; 07-21-14 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 07-21-14, 03:36 PM   #22
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I think you are all disregarding ego.

Even on a flat stage she would get dropped because they would go absolutely full-gas from the depart, the peloton would string out, she'd get gapped off the back, et voila, voila.

Or else she would ride in the grupetto's grupetto with Ted King and Cheng Ji and they would have an awesome time working hard for an hour and then enjoy a nice day tour out.
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Old 07-22-14, 05:36 AM   #23
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I believe the cutoff time is 1.25 times the time of the winner.
On a TT, yes. On a road stage, ranges from as little as 3% (rare!) to as much as 22% depending on winner's average speed and the category of parcour (e.g. flat or hilly). Sweet spot in the 10-15% zone. Never 25%. Ref article 22 of rules here.

My feeling is that a top woman could probably climb with the grupetto of sprinters, would probably be more challenged by the pace before the early break got away (not for ego, Campagnomo, just to make the break), the TTs, and of course by the cumulative effect of riding closer to her limits than the average man for 21 days. But all that is wonky speculation.

Anyone who got an invite just for publicity would be someone who, by definition, does not belong and would be a danger to themselves and others absent the skills gleaned in a long apprenticeship in the pro peloton -- that particular rolling city of UCI [male] pro license holders. I would not blame the riders for feeling that way. Call it ego or what you will, it would be justified. I would hope that the chromosomes of it all wouldn't be the salient issue.

If a gal could bust her chops all the way up in the male ranks from Cat 47 to the top, I hope the progressives would swat the knuckle-draggers and make room for her.

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Old 07-22-14, 07:01 AM   #24
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There isn't a single sport where women can compete with men. Fact.
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Old 07-22-14, 09:08 AM   #25
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There isn't a single sport where women can compete with men. Fact.
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