Professional cyclists participating in this weekend's Tour de White Rock say they're excited about an online petition asking the Tour de France to allow female professional cycling teams to participate.
"We think the women's races are just as exciting so we'd like to see some more support out there, get more women racing," said Devon Gorry, a professional cyclist from Utah who was racing in White Rock, B.C. this weekend.
Professional male cyclist Mac Garvin, agreed.
"I have a lot of friends who are women who race," he said. "They just don't get the same opportunities although they work just as hard and race just as hard."
The petition was started by four female champion cyclists — Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos and Chrissie Wellington — who say while many women's sports face battles of inequality, road cycling remains one of the worst offenders.
The petition was launched July 12 on Change.org and by Sunday evening, it had gathered nearly 13,000 signatures.
"For 100 years, the Tour de France has been the pinnacle endurance sports event of the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people. And for 100 years, it has been an exclusively male race," the petition reads.
"Fewer race opportunities, no televised coverage, shorter distances, and therefore salary and prize money inequity. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men's event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender's race interferes with the other."
A Tour Feminin women's race in France was last staged in 2009, but some cyclists say the event lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship.
Currently the Union of Cycliste Internationale rules set significantly different maximum distances for men's and women's stage races.
In elite men's races the maximum average daily distance is 180 kilometres, with a maximum of two stages of over 240 kilometres in races of 10 days and more.
In elite women's races the maximum average daily distance is 100 kilometres, with only one stage only of 150 kilometres maximum permitted.
The 2013 Tour de France covers 3,043 kilometres in 21 stages for an average daily distance of 145 kilometres. The longest stage was 242.5 kilometres up Mount Ventoux on Sunday.
The Tour de France was first run in 1903, but stopped during both world wars, meaning 2013 is the 100th year it has been staged.