PARIS -- Finally, the Tour de France is giving women a more visible role than just congratulating the male riders. On July 27 cyclings best-known race will host "La Course by Le Tour de France" -- a one-day womens competition staged hours before Tour riders race on the same circuit to finish the three-week event on Paris Champs-Elysees. The International Cycling Union announced the innovation Saturday as part of its 2014 racing calendar. Tour organizers, the Amaury Sport Organization, say they aim to make the womens competition "one of the most decisive races of the season." Until now, the 110-year-old Tour has been almost exclusively a male preserve, with women sometimes employed as team staffers or on the winners podium handing out flowers. A number of womens races have collapsed in recent years and some competitors have criticized poor funding and promotion. A "Tour Feminin" event in France was staged in the past, but not since 2009. "Womens races have had financial difficulties -- little television exposure, little media fallout and, as a result, few sponsors," said UCI sport director Philippe Chevallier in a phone interview. "We are working hard so that will change," he said, acknowledging that "its a long-term job." A group of cyclists, including Olympic gold medallist and road race world champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands and Olympian Emma Pooley of Britain, launched a petition last summer to push for a professional womens race in parallel to the Tour de France over the same distances. "There was a petition, which I found inappropriate by the way, during the Tour de France," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told The Associated Press by telephone. "After the Tour, in September, October, a delegation of (womens) champions came to see me, led by Marianne Vos," Prudhomme said. "What they asked us was for a bit of spotlight, they insisted upon the fact that womens cycling does not get enough media coverage and only this event -- and only organization ASO -- could help them to get more coverage for their race." Vos said she was "delighted" about the announcement of "La Course" event. "I am particularly happy to take part, especially thinking about the majestic finish on the Champs-Elysees," she was quoted as saying in a statement from Tour organizers. "The birth of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport. The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling ... (this) could open up a new era for womens cycling." In contrast, Prudhomme emphasized the challenge of running two races at the same time. "Its complicated. You have to do things step by step from a logistical point of view," and in terms of security, Prudhomme said. "Were totally incapable, logistically and technically, to run two events at the same time, whatever they may be. We dont know how to do it, (so) well have to wait to see what happens." nfl wholesale jerseys
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. Johns N.L., 6-4 in Draw 9 of the Players Championship curling event. McEwen grabbed a 4-3 lead with one in the fourth before Gushue responded with a single of his own in the sixth.MOSCOW -- Former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and the 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur advanced to the Kremlin Cup quarterfinals with straight-sets victories on Thursday, as top-seeded Alexandr Dolgopolov bowed out of the mens event. The 11th-ranked Ivanovic broke the 19-year-old Russian qualifier Valeria Solovieva three times in a 6-1, 6-4 victory, while Stosur struggled past Alize Cornet of France 7-6 (6), 7-5. "It was a good match for me," said Ivanovic, whose opponent was playing in only her second WTA match. "Its never easy to play someone you havent seen before as you dont know how they react in the different situations. But Im happy Ive managed to finish in good style." Ivanovic, whose best result this season was a semifinal appearance in Indian Wells in March, will be playing in her fifth quarterfinal. The 2008 French Open champion is looking for her 12th career title. Ivanovic will next face Serbian qualifier Vesna Dolonc, who advanced to her second career WTA quarterfinal by routing Romanias Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0. Top-seeded Stosur prevailed on a first-set tiebreaker and, 5-4 and 40-15 down on her serve in the second set, saved three set points before making the decisive break in the 11th game. The ninth-ranked Australian wrapped up the victory with a passing backhand crosscourt shot on her first match point. "We always play tough against each other," Stosur said. "But we didnt meet for a long time and we both seriously improved our tennis since our last meeting. "Today I had plenty of opportunities and chancees to finish the points off.dddddddddddd And It was important to believe I was doing the right things and to receive the win as a reward." In Fridays quarterfinals, Stosur will face Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic Seventh-seeded Maria Kirilenko, the only Russian left in the womens draw, rallied from 5-1 down in the first set to beat Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-4. In the second round of the mens tournament, French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin produced the biggest surprise of the event so far, saving four match points to beat Dolgopolov of Ukraine 6-3, 7-5, 7-6 (6). "It was a very close and a tough match," Roger-Vasselin said. "I survived four match points but also missed several easy shots on my match point before winning the match." The 20th-ranked Dolgopolov landed 10 aces to his opponents eight and had two match points, leading 6-5 and 40-15 in the second set, and two more at 6-4 on the tiebreaker. The Frenchman clinched victory with a forehand down the line. "It was tough for me to get into the match but then I had many chances in almost every game in the third set," Dolgopolov said. "Yet I failed to make a break. It was so simple -- I missed my chances and he has capitalized on his only one." Roger-Vasselin will next play Croatian veteran Ivo Karlovic, who served 16 aces to beat Alex Bogomolov Jr, 7-6 (11), 6-4, the last Russian left in the mens draw. Jerzy Janowicz of Poland advanced to the quarterfinals by beating seventh-seeded Carlos Berlocq of Argentina 6-3, 6-4. ' ' '