Words of Winder: To all the new people tuning in to the Tour de France Femmes, welcome

Retired pro Ruth Winder reflects on the first stage of the inaugural race

Photo: Getty Images

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Throughout the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, retired professional cyclist and former U.S. national champion Ruth Winder will be offering commentary and analysis to VeloNews readers.

Turning on the TV today felt different. But yet the same. If you’ve been following women’s cycling the last few years you might know what I mean.

The coverage of women’s cycling has been improving so much in the last few years. To be able to turn on GCN and just have it right there is something that is still new, even though we’ve been seeing more coverage each year.

Related: Preview: The inaugural Tour de France Femmes

This race, the Tour de France Femmes, felt different though. It felt similar to the Olympics. The anticipation for this race has been huge. That’s why I felt a little bad that after watching for only a few minutes I found myself … a bit bored. The Champs-Élysées is exactly what you’d expect. Mostly just a large bunch riding around, a few hopefuls sending it in YOLO style off the front, crashes, and a sprint finish.

The peloton in downtown Paris during stage 1 of the inaugural Tour de France Femmes. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Of course I have to deal with that boredom to then feel the excitement.

My hands sweat while I watch the lead out trains forming. I search for my favorite riders, look for Anna Henderson (Jumbo-Visma) battling Ellen van Dijk (Trek-Segafredo). My heart wishes so much for a magical win for Marianne Vos (Jumbo-Visma), the woman who left such an incredible impression on me, not only at my first race ever in Europe but also during some of my last.

All the while I feel slightly guilty for that, since my Trek-Segafredo teammates still hold a large spot in my heart and I should really cheer for them. Yet I also know that Lorena [Wiebes] (Team DSM) is virtually unstoppable and there is no way she won’t win.

Related: Tour de France Femmes stage 1: Lorena Wiebes sprints to victory

But is this different for me? Don’t I feel this way every time I watch a race? Yes, I do.

It feels exactly how I would expect it to feel. The racing is the same for us hardcore cycling fans, what’s different is all the new people we gain. Because you can talk to ANYONE about the Tour de France and they know what it is. That is what is not normal for us.

I can’t see you all new people tuning in and joining me, but I know that like with the Olympics there are more of you watching.


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