Kathryn Bertine is the co-founder of Le Tour Entier, which was instrumental in successfully persuading race organizer Amaury Sport Organization (ASO) to create a women’s Tour alongside the men’s Tour de France.
The inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France will be broadcasted LIVE on Universal Sports July 27 at 7:30 AM ET.
Bertine, who will ride in La Course, sat down for a one-on-one interview with USN cycling analyst Todd Gogulski. An edited transcript of the interview follows:
How much bigger than a bike race is this for you and for the other women?
It’s so much bigger. In fact, I’m reminded everyday when somebody reaches out to me who isn’t even involved in the sport of cycling, yet they’ve heard the news about the Tour de France. That tells me that this isn’t about bike racing, this isn’t even about the Tour de France. This is about something that the world can look to and say, “Oh my gosh, progress.”
Do you like the fact that the women’s race at the Tour is the same day as the men’s race?
It’s a huge factor. In fact that’s what we were pushing for. We can all come together and share the same venue and have it be profitable and lucrative for the sponsors and the companies involved.
What are viewers in America going to see for those viewers who have never seen a women’s race before?
I think they’re going to be surprised at the speed of the race. I think there is a common misconception that women’s sports are slower. They might even think that they’re watching a men’s race and then see lots of ponytails. But I think they’re going to be surprised by the quality of the racing and how fast this race is going to be.
You came into this year without a contract and you were on a mission to get on a team to race La Course, tell me what’s happened?
The one thing I’ve truly learned this year is that when you fight for everything you want, sometimes you lose everything you have, and it can be a struggle. When you put yourself out there, a lot of obstacles come up, whether they’re professional or they’re personal. It’s hard fighting for change, and I really wanted to race this event, but starting 2014 without a pro contract, I thought it just wasn’t going to happen. Then the most amazing thing happened. A few weeks back, Rochelle Gilmore signed me to the team Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling, and I’m actually going to get my dream of racing La Course and staying on a UCI team for the rest of 2014. I couldn’t be happier. It’s been a hard year, but completely worth it. Racing with Wiggle Honda at La Course will be the highlight of my career.
What do you want the future of Le Course to be?
When you create something, there is a possibility that people can say, “okay we’ve created change, we’re all good.” But the reality is this is the time when we need to keep the pressure on the most, because it’s not just about creating change, it’s about building upon that change. This year, the race is one day, and we want to make sure that the next year we have more than that, and then more than that so we can build towards that vision of really showing what women can do in an endurance race, such as three weeks.