REIMS, France (VN) — There were many unknowns about the Tour de France Femmes before the inaugural race began. One question loomed large — would the race attract the throngs of spectators so ubiquitous at the men’s race?
At the start of stage 3, I wandered around the fan zone in Reims. The town center was buzzing with activity — a group of a hundred kids had just gotten brand new bikes that morning, and locals of all ages sported cycling caps in the familiar shades of polka dots, yellow, and green.
In Epernay later that day, there were just as many people at the finish, and images from during the stage showed fans among the rows of Champagne grapes.
The Secours Populaire Français, a non-profit dedicated to fighting poverty and discrimination in France, was a beneficiary partner of the Tour, and received 135 bikes to give to kids in need.
The kids were beyond stoked to get new bikes.
As soon as the peloton rolled out of town, the kids rode 1km on the course to the cathedral.
New bike day is the best day.
A city of 187,00, Reims has 50km of dedicated bike paths and a Zébullo bike hire service.
The iconography of the men’s Tour de France transitions effortlessly to the women’s race.
Aussie fans on the hunt for Team BikeExchange-Jayco at the teams presentation.
Fans from every generation.
Canyon-SRAM’s Kasia Niewiadoma signs autographs before the race.
Michel told me that the crowds were good for a first-year race.
“It’s the Tour effect,” he said. “It’s starting, I think it’s a very good step.”
Look! It’s Marianne Vos’ stuffed toys for winning the race!
More fans of the GOAT waiting to hear her speak before the race.
Watch the Femmes!