As cycling fans around the world focus on the big race around the France, don't forget that this week also sees the staging of the only grand tour in the women's cycle racing calendar - the Giro Rosa (formerly known as the Giro Donne), which started today.
It will see the top professional female cyclists from around the world contesting a one-week tour of Italy. Today's 118km stage ran from Giovinazzo (near Bari, Puglia) to Margherita di Savoia and was won by Kirsten Wild (Dutch National Team) ahead of her compatriot, Olympic Champion Marianne Vos.
The women will wend their way through Italy to contest the final stage, a time trial in Cremona, (Lombardy).
Nineteen teams (including 6 from Italy, 3 from the Netherlands, 2 from the USA and 1 from Great Britain) are contesting the race, with racers competing to bag one of the different leader's jerseys - exactly like what you find in the men's event. Naturally the maglia rosa for the overall winner is the top prize. The current title holder is Marianne Vos (Rabo Women Cycling Team), will naturally be looking to retain her jersey. It won't be plain sailing though, since the likes of Elisa Longo Borghini (Hitec Products UCK), Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle-Honda) or Shelly Olds (Tibco-To the Top) amongst others will be out to stop Vos in her tracks.
While the racing is likely to be every bit as exciting as the men's Giro d'Italia, this event, sadly will not have the same media coverage or funding. Indeed, the original version of this race, the Giro Donne was cancelled earlier this year due to a lack of a sponsor. A backer stepped in at the last minute and managed to rescue the race, re-christening it the Giro Rosa. It is a good job that this event is being held as it will be the only women's grand tour taking place this year. The women's tour de France (Le Boucle Feminin) was removed from the calendar a few years ago, so eliminating the Italian version of the event would have been a truly negative step for women's racing.
I hope that more coverage is given to the Giro Rosa, and in future more investment can be made into women's cycle racing in the same way that we have seen with the men's game.
Anyway, for more information on the Giro Rosa, visit the event website on