The Tour de France has broken from tradition—and I couldn’t be happier.
For decades, the race’s ownership group, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), kept the Tour preserved in time, like Han Solo frozen in carbonite. The rules, regulations, stage distances, and the presence of podium girls all felt like holdovers from a bygone era. At best, this reverence to the race’s 100-year history felt quaint, like watching a baseball game at Wrigley Field. At worst, it was problematic, and watching the race sometimes felt like reading your Uncle Dave’s Facebook posts.
Then, a few years ago, ASO officials started trying out bold and sometimes bizarre experiments to freshen things up. First, they ditched the daily 120-mile stages for shorter and punchier ones , and the shift breathed new action and aggression into the race. Then, they replaced the podium girls with men and women “presenters.” The Tour even tried out a Formula One starting grid during a stage back in 2018, and it backfired in hilarious fashion. Now, there’s even talk of the Tour ditching the final stage in Paris for one along the French riviera.
Of course, the biggest change happened this year, when ASO officials finally launched a bonafide Tour de France for women —and let us all commend them for doing so.
My take: these sudden changes are a sign that the Tour de France is no longer beholden to its own history, and that its organizers are open to innovation, no matter how wacky or weird the idea may be. […]