International Cycling Union President Brian Cookson has ruled out the possibility of a women's Tour de France run at the same time as the men's three week race.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Cookson identified the logistics of running a women's Tour alongside that of the men as the primary stumbling block, telling Bloomberg it was more feasible as a standalone event with its own sponsors and host cities.

"ASO have quite clearly said that it's a very difficult ask for a three-week event alongside the men's race," said Cookson. "I don't think we're going to see that happen for all sorts of logistical reasons."

The comments come not long after after the Amgen Tour of California announced a three-day women's stage race to be run prior to its men's race, and the Vuelta a Espana said it was exploring a showpiece similar to the La Course race run on the final day of the Tour de France.

Things are happening in this space, albeit slowly. The athletes are willing, the goodwill is there and it's interesting to note that much of the conversation has turned from broad indifference, to how.

Cookson is, of course, right. On paper the idea sounds feasible but the logistics are a nightmare. And not for the athletes who only have to show up and race, but organisers and also media, whose workload will have doubled.

One simple to understand example of the logistics involved is accommodation. Easy proximity to a stage start or finish for teams and media is already hard to come by, imagine that scramble for rooms almost doubled? Who is up for driving two hours or more just to make the start line? This without even considering transfers.

It's not just about dropping a race flag, the on-road logistics for organisers and broadcasters are even more nightmarish. More motos and choppers for what in effect is double the racing. How do TV crews get from two stage starts and finishes in one day. Imagine everyone navigating a difficult mountain top stage finish?

The Tour is a magnificent beast, in many ways bigger than the sport itself, something legendary film director Stephen Fears noted when he talked about the making of his Lance Armstrong feature.

"You do the best you can. It's so huge. When the Tour took me up Mont Ventoux, there were quarter of a million people there," said Fears.

"It doesn't really exist the Tour de France. It's a perfect television event. In other words, if I go to a football match, I can see the football match...but the Tour doesn't exist in that way.

"I was taken by the Tour and I was in a car just behind the first lot of cyclists. In the middle of these guys, in a sort of bubble. And then there's this insane world all around us. And beyond that a quarter of a million people on top of Mont Ventoux...

"So it's like a circus."

Do you know who won this year's Giro Rosa? Run from the 4-13 July, Marianne Vos's victory was lost amid the drama of the first two weeks of the 2014 Tour. Now imagine a women's race running alongside or before the men and you begin to realise that it risks being engulfed, treated as a chore to be completed or afterthought to the main game.

But does women's cycling even need a Tour de France? Why can't it strike out on its own with a different format for a premier race on the world calendar? Why fixate on a kind of status quo? A replication of what the men already have?

It's interesting because this discussion is coming at a time when much of the future world cycling is itself in flux, a perfect opportunity for the women to stake out some territory of their own.

The UCI and stakeholders are looking at streamlining the sport into something more understandable and easier to package for broadcasters and sponsors. From fixtures to team roster sizes, to the number of WorldTour teams and even wilder discussions about reducing the length of three-week tours to two.

Amid those discussions Tour de France organisers ASO are looking into running a single-week women's tour but tellingly have only found commercial interest in the US. So why not run a women's Tour there and market it as the premier women's event of the year?

In fact why even run the race repeatedly in a any single country? Why not set out a long term host country bid process to run the race along the same lines as world football and the Olympic movement do, with its own June slot on the world calendar.

This would give national governing bodies an opportunity to showcase cycling in their regions, with women as the stars. Imagine running one in in Australia? It could be bigger than the Tour Down Under.

Just not Qatar, ok?