Tour de France Féminin
The Grande Boucle, formerly known as the Tour Cycliste Féminin, or simply Tour Féminin, was one of the Grand Tours of women's cycle races. Grande Boucle means "great loop" and describes the individual stages which form a circuit around France.
The organizers had to scramble for sponsorship nearly every year and were forced to schedule stages in cities which contributed money, regardless of their location. As a result, there were long transfers between the finish of one stage and the start of the next. Another problem in the mid-1990s involved the name. Until 1997, it was the Tour Cycliste Féminin, billed as the Women's Tour de France or the Women's Tour. The organizers of the men's Tour de France said it was a breach of trademark and in 1998 the name changed.
In 2004, the race could not be held because of organisational difficulties. It returned, smaller, in 2005 and 2006. The previous tours were 10 to 15 stages; later ones had five and stayed in one region. The race was also rated lower by the UCI, and had a reduced field. In 2008, the race was six days and seven stages. However, in 2009 the race was only four days long with only 66 riders, after a planned race start and three stages in Britain fell through, leading winner Emma Pooley to joke that the race was "more of a Petite Boucle than Grande." The race was discontinued after 2009. After the subsequent termination of the 10-stage Tour de l'Aude Cycliste Féminin after 2010, the major women's stage race in France would have become the Route de France Féminine—except that it was also canceled for 2011, leaving France without a major women's stage race for the first time since the mid-1980s.
La Grande Boucle Féminine Medallists
- Hedwig Kröner (2008-08-08). "2009 Grande Boucle Féminine starts in Britain". Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- Simon Richardson (2009-06-19). "Pooley wins first stage of Grande Boucle". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 2011-05-24.
- "Route de France féminine : ce sera pour 2012? (in French)". L'est Eclair. May 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Scrymgeour, Kristy (2003). "La Grande Débâcle: What's wrong with the women's Tour de France?". cyclingnews.com.