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Women’s tour aims to inspire

Published May 8, 2012

SAN JOSE, CA (BRAIN) Tuesday May 8 2012 9:57 AM MT—Six female cyclists are deep in training mode this month in preparation for the grueling challenge of riding every stage of the Tour de France in July.

The 3,479-kilometer, 21-day epic is part of the Rêve Tour, a collaboration between peloton magazine and Rêve, a tour company recently started by cycling photographer Michael Robertson. The women will ride the entire Tour de France—from the prologue in Liége to the famous finish on Paris’ Champs-Élysées—with the overarching goal of inspiring more women to cycle and to raise money for the Bikes Belong Foundation. The goal is to bring in $60,000 for the U.S.-based advocacy organization through online donations.

Two of the riders are mothers. Not everyone has raced competitively, but all are already experienced cyclists. The women selected for Rêve are:

  • Heidi Swift, contributor to peloton magazine;
  • Kym Fant, co-owner of Norcal Bike Sport and Bike Peddler in Santa Rosa, California;
  • Kate Powlison, research analyst and communications coordinator for Bikes Belong;
  • Maria del Pilar Vazquez, a randoneur rider from Puerto Rico;
  • Jennifer Cree, from Upper Echelon Fitness in Portland, Oregon;
  • Kristen Peterson, a molecular biologist and professional triathlete from Boulder, Colorado.

Rêve, French for dream, is meant to instill confidence in other women that cycling can also be a part of their lives, even if not at the same level.

“This is a heartfelt, inspirational story. I mean, this is incredible. Each of these women is being able to fulfill a lifelong dream. I think it’s going to hopefully add inspiration to get women to start cycling in general, to become potentially racers and really reach out and challenge themselves,” said Bill Rudell, public relations manager for Cannondale, Rêve’s bike sponsor. Each of the women will ride SuperSix road bikes equipped with SRAM Red, Quarq power meters, Zipp wheels, Schwalbe tires, FSA cockpit parts and Fizik saddles.

Rudell said Cannondale would leverage the tour to promote women’s cycling through future products and promotions and would integrate Cannondale dealers to help them boost sales of women’s specific gear. Rudell believes word of the tour will spread beyond the industry to help pull in new riders.

“I think this is going to have a pretty broad, non-endemic reach,” he said, adding that he’d already been contacted by journalists for ESPN Women and Women’s Health and Fitness. “If we can tell the story elsewhere and drive more people into the sport, everybody wins.”

The women have already attended one training camp together and will gather for a second at the end of this month in Santa Rosa. Other sponsors include Strava, SRAM, Giro, Capo, Schwalbe, Alpinestars, Small HD, Zacuto and Westone.

Robertson launched Rêve after shooting photos for a group of 15 Dutch friends in 2010 who rode the entire Tour de France route and raised 100,000 euros for children’s cancer charity Kika. Rêve specializes in grand tours and plans to offer a fully supported trip to the Tour de France next year and the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta Espana the following year at a cost of about $11,000.

Nicole Formosa

Topics associated with this article: People

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