Lizzie Holden is a Manx rider for the British Le Col Wahoo crew and will likely be competing within the inaugural Tour de France Femmes, which takes place from 24-31 July.
After I was rising up within the Isle of Man, I used to hurry residence from college day-after-day to look at Mark Cavendish within the Tour de France.
On Sunday, I will likely be using in it myself. It is an enormous second, for me and my sport.
The profile of girls’s biking has grown a lot previously few years anyway, however the launch of the Tour de France Femmes is one other large step, when it comes to publicity and the whole lot in regards to the measurement of the occasion.
For instance, there may be stay TV protection of every of the eight phases, one thing that’s routine for males’s biking however has not at all times been the case for us.
I turned skilled in 2017 and it was so onerous to discover a method of watching some ladies’s races. You typically needed to comply with somebody’s random stay stream on Fb and simply see whoever was going over the end line.
You’ll don’t have any method of figuring out what had really gone on within the race, however having it televised correctly means folks can see how thrilling ladies’s biking is, and clearly additionally makes it way more enticing to the sponsors who fund it.
That is all a part of rising the game as entire. It is getting larger and higher anyway – however after all the Tour has an essential half to play as a platform too.
The lads’s race is likely one of the largest sporting occasions on the planet, watched by hundreds of thousands worldwide. Even individuals who do not comply with biking will see a few of it, or will no less than have heard of it.
After I was cheering on Cav, I did not even take into consideration why ladies did not have a model of their very own – I simply beloved biking anyway.
However now the ladies’s Tour is lastly right here – and on the calendar for the primary time because it appeared beneath a unique identify and format in 1989 – you realise what number of new folks it should deliver to our sport, and the way it can encourage the following technology.
A particular strategy to see Paris for the primary time
In the beginning of the 12 months I began considering it could possibly be a risk for me to journey the Tour, however my crew – Le Col Wahoo – have been counting on a wildcard to get in.
In March the crew bought the nod and all of us began to get excited, however nonetheless needed to wait to search out out who can be picked.
I have been having a very good season so I did get my hopes up, however I solely bought the cellphone name to say I used to be on the crew about three weeks in the past.
That was the time after I began considering ‘OK, that is actually going to occur’, and now it’s getting nearer, it’s beginning to really feel actual.
The primary stage is in Paris on Sunday, simply earlier than the ultimate stage of the lads’s race and across the iconic circuit of the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees.
I’ve by no means even been to Paris earlier than, so it will be a fairly particular strategy to see it for the primary time. There will likely be huge crowds and the ambiance goes to be superb.
I am trying ahead to the remainder of the race too – properly, most of it! It is fairly good that the massive mountain phases within the Vosges are on the finish.
Hopefully we may have some alternatives earlier than then. We’ve got some actually sturdy sprinters on our crew and quite a lot of riders who’re sturdy within the breakaways and might win from there – however a lot of the 144 ladies within the Tour will likely be considering precisely the identical factor.
Dreaming of a stage win
No matter occurs on the Tour, I’ll nonetheless get a buzz out of using alongside legends like Marianne Vos over the following few days.
Lengthy-term, my ambition is to get nearer to that degree – competing with one of the best riders on the planet. Sooner or later it will be unimaginable to be like Lizzie Deignan, one other hero of mine, who’s simply so constant at combating for titles.
Proper now that appears a good distance off, however at 24 I’m simply having fun with the lifetime of an expert bicycle owner and who is aware of the place onerous work can take me subsequent.
I by no means actually considered this being a profession after I was youthful. My dad, Rob Holden, was a professional rider too however he by no means pushed me into biking.
I began it after I was actually younger however did not take pleasure in it and bought into swimming as an alternative. That’s what I did for six years or so after which after I was 12 or 13 I attempted once more, made some associates within the biking neighborhood on the island and it took off from there.
It was a giant bounce after I moved to Girona after signing for a Spanish crew in 2019. I solely got here out for a number of weeks of winter coaching however beloved it, after which I met my boyfriend – Australian rider Nick Schultz – and ended up staying out right here.
Nick has bought his personal desires on the Tour and he couldn’t have come a lot nearer to getting a stage win in stage 10 this 12 months, when he misplaced out to Magnus Cort in a photograph end.
I used to be really in a physio session that afternoon however I knew he was in a breakaway. After I got here out I bought it up on my cellphone with 10km to go and I used to be watching it in the midst of city, with my head in my fingers. Folks have been taking a look at me like I used to be loopy – I used to be so gutted for him.
That is the magic of the Tour de France although – attending to put on the yellow jersey is so particular, however a stage win could be profession defining too.
There clearly is not the identical historical past but for the ladies, nevertheless it’s nonetheless the Tour and it carries over that significance. After all it is a goal for me too – it’s important to dream, in any other case what is the level?
Lizzie Holden was talking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.