Maybe there are some silver linings to this strange 2020; with lockdown and cancelled races, innovation in e-sports has prevailed and made it possible for female riders to participate in a virtual Tour de France (hosted by Zwift), right on the start line alongside the men. With so many amazing female athletes in our Amp Human community, we chatted with some of our awesome pro women from Rally Cycling and Team Twenty20, to understand how monumental this has been for them as leading females in their sport.
Team Rally: Krista Doebel-Hickok
"What I do like to see is the men's and women's races having the same agenda--racing on the same days, the same routes and with the same coverage and respect. I like that both men's and women's teams are facing the same challenges right now and finding the same solutions/opportunities in it. We're going at it together, rather than alone.
Our men and women are using the same things like trainers and Zwift consultants. All our staff are working together and sharing knowledge. This would suggest that if men's and women's races operated in conjunction more often in the real world, then more men's and women's teams would operate together and at the same level there too. To me, this virtual Tour de France is like a sample of what could be. It's showing the world our potential, desire, commitment...and, maybe even our worth."
Team Twenty20: Lea Davison
"Zwift's Virtual Tour de France has been truly groundbreaking. This is the first time the women have had equal race opportunity, equal media coverage, and equal race distances, and an equal number of stages to the men in the Tour de France. The women's peloton has been fighting for this for a long time, and they were able to get a women's stage of the Tour de France in real life for the past couple years. This was such an important victory, and the desire to have an ENTIRE Tour de France for the women is still there. Years ago, there used to be a TDF for women so we know it can be done. So this year's virtual women's TDF stage race is another important step in the right direction. This opportunity was created because Zwift pushed for it. This is what it takes, the decision makers believing that there should be equality and going for it. It's been really special to be able to take part in the moment of equality that will hopefully extend to an equal women's Tour de France in real life.
Stage 4 of the Zwift Tour de France was an exciting and tactical one. In fact, it’s the most tactical and realistic Zwift race I’ve been a part of. It was two laps punctuated with two climbs, and the most decisive moment of the race came at the top of the second climb 2 km away from the finish. It took teamwork and it was fun to be part of a team effort (this is unique to a mountain biker like myself!). Lap 1, I found myself in the chase group with Chloe while Courtney was in the lead group. Courtney tried to slow the pace down while Chloe and I worked together to bridge back up. We did and team Twenty20 had the numbers in the lead group going into the decisive final lap. I was two switchbacks away from making it over the top of the climb with the lead group (so close!) and sprinted with the chase group to 15th place.
It’s an honor and such a great opportunity to race in the TDF and I appreciate Zwift for pushing for equality in the sport. Let’s hope this leads to an equal women’s TDF in real life because it’s been truly amazing."
Team Twenty20: Natalia Franco
Natalia filmed her reaction directly after finishing the tour. Press play to hear what she thought.
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