Carmen Small of Durango could be one of the challengers Sunday when women’s cycling gets a huge shot of publicity on a world stage.
During the final day of the men’s Tour de France, a 56-mile women’s stage race will be held and will finish on the famed Champs-Élysées in Paris a few hours before the men’s three-week tour concludes.
The women’s race is officially being called “La Course by Le Tour de France” and will feature the world’s top 120 women cyclists and 20 teams, including world champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands fresh off her Giro Rosa win in Italy.
La Course will be shown live on Universal Sports Network at 5:30 a.m. MDT Sunday. Universal is not available from local cable providers, but it is available from satellite provider DirecTV.
Durango native and resident Small was named, along with Vos, as one of five favorites to watch by pro cycling reporter Jen See in an online story for Shape magazine.
Small took third in the world individual time trial and first in the national time trial last year.
Said See: “The 34-year-old is a star on the American team, Specialized-lululemon, and will likely use her tactical smarts and turn of speed to try to secure her spot on the podium.”
Small said in an email Monday to the Herald: “Getting really excited for Sunday, can’t wait!”
There has been a women’s Tour de France stage race, but not for a couple of decades.
Vos said on the official Tour de France website: “The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling, and I have no doubt that La Course by Le Tour identifies a new era for women’s cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing.”
According to a news release on the Universal website, Paris policewomen will be responsible for watching over La Course, and riders who make it onto the podium will receive kisses from podium boys instead of the customary podium girls.