• Tiffany Cromwell enjoying the sunshine in Northampton at Aviva Women's Tour 2016 - Stage 5 (Velofocus)Source: Velofocus
Tiffany Cromwell has described the revised 67km La Course distance as an “insult” the women’s peloton may wear despite itself due to the commercial gain associated with the corresponding Tour de France.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
18 Nov 2016 - 8:09 AM 

Race organiser ASO this week defended its decision to alter the competition from a 100km criterium on the Champs-Elysees in Paris to a mountainous 67km race in the Alps before stage 18 of the Tour next year.

The short distance, albeit all at altitude, has been the main argument for those against the revamp, which despite clear commercial merit is seemingly unsatisfactory to a peloton still trying to overcome comparative disadvantage.

“Teams want to support it because they know in terms of the global viewing reach you want that for your sponsors, but then it’s like, how do we get a better race if we are just going to support what they’re giving us? You’re stuck in this corner,” Cromwell told Cycling Central from Adelaide, Australia.

“I’m not a fan. It’s good that they’re trying something different, but it’s one of those catch-22s. I wouldn’t call it progression.

“I’d like to know the reasoning of why they’ve kept it so short because ultimately it’s going to make the race very closed. There’s going to be very few people who are going to be in the mix and I can’t see it being super exciting.”

ASO technical director Thierry Gouvenou has said the change is designed to avoid La Course becoming repetitious and “to offer the ladies different terrain to demonstrate what they are capable of”, within the bounds of logistics and providing Tour de France paraphernalia.

The mountainous route from Briançon, where stage 18 of the Tour will also start, to the hors categorie Col d’Izoard certainly won’t suit sprinters like past winners and reigning Australian champion Chloe Hosking (Wiggle-High5).

“You can put on a better show on the Champs Elysees because, OK, it’s still a short race but it’s much more open as a lot more people have a chance,” Cromwell counters.

“In women’s cycling there aren’t so many pure climbers because there is no need to be a pure climber. The only race we have where it’s ideal for focus to be 100 per cent climbing is the Giro, where you have three mountain stages. Everything else in the women’s peloton you need a lot of power and that explosive riding style [for].”

Two-time Giro d’Italia Femminile stage winner Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) offered a race over a transitional stage of the Tour would have been a happier solution with all sporting, commercial and logistical avenues considered.

“Have a 120-140km stage, a proper, legit one-day race,” she says.

Women’s race distances have previously been a topic of conjecture. Some riders were at odds with a 20km criterium that comprised stage two of the Santos Women’s Tour in Adelaide earlier this year. Former world champion Lizzie Deignan (Boels-Dolmans) made headlines in 2015 when she opted out of her home Tour de Yorkshire on similar grounds.

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