Winnipeg's cycling community is celebrating after local cyclist Leah Kirchmann placed third in the inaugural La Course, a race put on by the Tour de France.

Kirchmann, a national cycling champion, placed third behind Marianne Vos and Kirsten Wild, both of the Netherlands, in Sunday's race.

Jared Spier, a longtime cyclist in Winnipeg who met Kirchmann in 2006, says he watched the race on TV and didn't know she had pulled off a podium finish.

"At the finish it was just like, 'Oh, that's too bad but I'm sure, you know, it was a great experience.' And then it was just like, 'Wait, she did finish third!' It was great," he said Monday.

Jared Spier

Jared Spier, a longtime cyclist in Winnipeg who met Kirchman in 2006, says he watched the race on TV and had no idea she had a podium finish. (CBC)

La Course marks the first time a cycling race for women was hosted by the Tour de France.

On Sunday, Kirchmann told CBC News the competitive world of cycling is still dominated by men and she hopes the new event will encourage more women to take up professional cycling. 

Spier agreed, saying Kirchmann's win will help put competitive cycling in the spotlight for Canada.

"It was nice that they stepped up, and at least it's one stage, it's a circuit race," he said.

"It's not a women's Tour de France by any stretch, but it provides them the same audience that the Tour de France gets. This is huge."