The Tour de France Femmes wrapped up on July 30 (congrats, Demi Vollering), but I’d forgive you for wanting to keep the cycling action going.
In that vein, peep “Out in Front,” a Canyon Bicycles-produced documentary released in the weeks before the 2023 race. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the 2022 race that chronicles the excitement and emotion of an official women’s Tour de France event returning for the first time in decades.
Famed bike-messenger-turned-edurance athlete Emily Chappell hosts the film, and luminaries like Denise Kelly, Marilyn Trout, Maria Canins, Elise Chabbey, Kasia Nieuwiadoma, Pauliena Rooijakkers, and Ronny Lauke all make appearances. Together they tell a tale that’s equal parts frustrating and redemptive — the troubled history of women’s racing in a society seemingly determined to disrespect world-class athletes on the basis of gender.
“Out in Front” begins in the 1890s, as bicycles brought increased freedom and autonomy to women at the exact moment that women’s social movements got rolling in earnest.
Fast forward to 1955. Organizers put on the first Tour de France Femmes to the appreciation of female cyclists worldwide. But that was the last such event until 1984. In the ’80s races, female athletes still weren’t taken seriously — teams did not provide bikes, wheels, kit, or training camps.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the lack of support, the event petered out after a few years. Racing continued under different names and lengths until 2022, when organizers finally created an event of equal standing to the men’s race.
And all that? That’s just a fraction of the film.
Part history lesson, part emotional retrospective, part introduction to the sport, “Out in Front” has got a little something for everybody. Don’t miss it.
Runtime: 20 minutes