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

Vicky Carbonneau: What qualities do you need to be successful 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 going to school and studying, while cycling at the same time. Let’s see quickly enough if we have the skills to go to the next level.

Tour de France women

Ludwig from hell to heaven: “I managed to go and win and I did it”


What is the hardest thing in this sport?

AC-R: For me it is the distance from my family and my partner. The older I get, the harder I find it. Cycling requires a lot of sacrifice and training. Physically it is difficult. Cycling is a real professional 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 the male cyclist, without imagining that one day I could be in their shoes. There were no advertised female cyclists. So I continued my studies in the real estate sector. Then things started to change, it was in 2009. Things were fine-tuned for women to be able to do high-level cycling. And the federation helped me. I managed to find a part-time job, then a part-time job, which allowed me to train and go to competitions. And that’s when I was able to start projecting myself and telling myself that I could go further. (…)

Many times, the teams do not appreciate the cyclists’ pregnancy and put pressure on these women to stop.

Tell us about your battle.

AC-R: In 2021, not without difficulty, we obtained from the federation that the girls who run in the World Tour teams obtain the professional license (like the men). But the ultimate goal is that, within the next five years, all these girls on the continental teams can have a professional license, as well as a management of women’s professional cycling, as the men did 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 what about motherhood, how is it going?

AC-R: The UCI recently introduced a rule that allows athletes to return after pregnancy and the birth of a child. But the reality is quite different. Many times, the teams do not appreciate the cyclists’ pregnancy and put pressure on these women to stop. But there are teams like Trek-Segafredo who are at the forefront of the matter.

Lizzie Deignan had to leave her former team when she announced her pregnancy and Trek-Segafredo jumped at the opportunity to ask her to join the team, first as a brand ambassador and then as a cyclist. 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 great comeback after giving birth to her baby: she is the French Pascale Jeuland. But girls still think a lot before considering pregnancy. And they don’t dare 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 battle 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 certainly 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 then allow women’s cycling to grow.

This is really good news. It is important to keep the women’s competitions that have existed for years. They are part of the history of women’s cycling. It would be a shame if we were to participate in races that are currently only for men and that would conflict in the calendar with races that we have been used to for years. I am thinking in particular of the Alfredo Binda Trophy. I’m happy to have new races like Paris-Roubaix, which don’t compare to other races that have been around for years, but I don’t 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 vows, and it is this fertile ground that will then move on to the next level.

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

AC-R: We have to evolve with the times. Half of the current group could do a three-week Tour de France, but another part is still studying and / or doesn’t 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 train alone and recognize the stages.

Today, in the women’s teams, we are thirteen runners, knowing that there are six of us per race, and that the calendar continues as we prepare 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’s complicated. We are not numerous enough in the teams.

We must remain objective about what we are today, that is, small teams that can prepare 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 this. Men are more numerous in their teams.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot

Credit: Getty Images

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

AC-R: I would compare our way of running to what we find in the first male amateur category, where the races are much shorter, between 120 and 160 km, and where it starts at full speed and rolls at full speed. . We are not at all in the same way to run, as they will start at a slower pace, knowing they have 250 kilometers to go.

Find more testimonies of women whose voice counts in the world of cycling in the book “En Danseuse” by Vicky Carbonneau (edited by Amphora).

Tour de France women

Ludwig, from nightmare to victory



“All this attention is not normal”: Van Aert in “rock star” at the critérium de Roeselare


Leave a Comment