comment les équipementiers s'adaptent au peloton féminin

comment les équipementiers s’adaptent au peloton féminin

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In the paddock of the women’s Tour de France teams, one color dominates: pink. SD Worx, Le Col-Wahoo, EF Education, UAE Emirates… Several teams have it on their jersey. Like what clichés are still popular when it comes to designing equipment for female cyclists. “The first thing that runners ask us is not to have things that are too girly though”is surprised Dorian Tabeau, marketing manager of Lapierre, partner of the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope. He regrets that these prejudices die hard: “Things are still too gendered.”

Present in the women’s peloton for six years (also in the men’s with Groupama-FDJ), the French brand is one of those who have taken the turn of the unisex ranges. “With the naked eye, you won’t see any difference between David Gaudu’s bike and Marta Cavalli’s. It’s a will”assures Dorian Tabeau. He adds : “We haven’t made a bike with a supposedly feminine geometry for four years. Talking to the riders, we understood that it didn’t add anything, that it almost devalued their performance.”

On Lapierre bikes, the frames are therefore unisex. Apart from the saddles, only the size varies for a simple and good reason: the runners are in general much smaller than the runners. But this way of thinking has yet to take hold in the paddock of women’s Tour de France teams, even if other equipment manufacturers like Cannondale share it. “The women’s cycling market is ten years behind, it is emerging, it is looking for itself, and still does not know its consumers very well. We have a lot to learn, but for us, the way is unisex equipment”enlightens Dorian Tabeau.

This conclusion, the tricolor equipment manufacturer draws it from its six years of partnership with the FDJ-Suez-Futuroscope, and from permanent exchanges with the staff and the runners. “Today, we know what girls want. We are now almost only concerned with technique, aesthetics is settled“, says the marketing manager. Lapierre also unveiled at the start of the Tour a special bike, imagined by the riders, with references to the eight stages of the Grande Boucle.

Between designing a bike to the taste of female riders, and falling into sexist clichés, the line is then very fine. “To avoid them, we first hunt prejudices, especially coloriels. We also hire women, in an environment that is still too masculineassures Dorian Tabeau. It’s a balancing act because we stay in a masculine universe, and on the other hand, we don’t want to be seen as opportunists in the feminine market.”

As such, the Women’s Tour de France must speed up the process. Behind this speech, however, there are real differences between David Gaudu’s bike and that of Marta Cavalli. Dorian Tabeau lifts the veil on what cannot be seen with the naked eye: “The big difference is the relationship between the behavior of the bike, its weight and the level of rigidity. You have to find a good compromise, because the riders are lighter”. Even if in the end, the addition of components (derailleurs, chains, cans…) makes the weight substantially equal.

So much for the mount, but what about the outfits? Responsible for the Ekoi brand, which dresses the Arkea, Saint-Michel Auber 93 and Cofidis teams, Pietro Cicoria acknowledges that his teams seek to “bringing a feminine touch to the world of cycling”without falling into the trap of all-out pink. “First, we systematically equip the men’s and women’s teams of our partners. It’s natural”he acknowledges.

For two years, the Ekoi brand has set up a service dedicated to the female peloton, with its own collections. “We brought in someone who is not from the world of cycling, but from fashion, who works with our riders. The goal is that what appeals to professionals is tomorrow available to all”promises Pietro Cicoria.

With their flashy jerseys, also worn by the men, the EF Education - Tibco - SVB team stands out in the women's peloton.  (MATTHEW MIRVILLE / MATTHEW MIRVILLE)

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Obviously, women’s knitwear is cut differently, to adapt to a woman’s morphology. “We are constantly improving all of this thanks to their feedback.”appreciates Pietro Cicoria. An example ? Helmets. “We adapted the tightening at the back of the helmet, leaving space to pass long hair, our engineers worked on this at the request of the runners”. The same is true for the bras, designed so that the runners can run with their jerseys open, without revealing themselves too much.

“Cycling is very much associated with men culturally, but that has to change and it does. You have to adapt when necessary, but otherwise make as few differences as possible. A cyclist, whether male or female, is a cyclist”concluded Pietro Cicoria. “It’s sometimes not an easy challenge, but you have to do it. The bike has fallen behind, it has to catch up.” And join the peloton of sports where we no longer ask questions of gender.

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