Women's cycling helped by UCI boss, says Chrissie Wellington

Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington has praised the influence of cycling boss Brian Cookson on the development of women's racing.

Wellington has campaigned for improved coverage of women's cycling, and last month saw the first running of La Course by Le Tour de France in Paris.

Cookson was named the president of governing body the UCI last year.

"The election of Brian Cookson has been really positive for the women's side of the sport," Wellington told BBC Sport.

"He prioritised women's cycling in his manifesto and it appears he is actually walking the talk, which is really promising."

Last year Wellington, a retired four-time ironman world champion who is unbeaten over the distance, teamed up with world and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos, double Commonwealth Games silver medallist Emma Pooley and Wiggle Honda rider Kathryn Bertine to set up Le Tour Entier. 

Marianne Vos

Marianne Vos won the inaugural La Course by Le Tour de France

The group set out to campaign for a women's Tour de France, and the first running of La Course, a one-day race held on the streets of Paris on the same day as the final stage of Le Tour, was seen as progress towards that aim.

The race, won by the Netherland's Vos, contained 120 entrants, was shown live in more than 150 countries and benefitted from sharing media attention with Le Tour.

"It was emotional, both for those of us who helped bring it to fruition and the athletes that raced," said Wellington, who is from Feltwell in Norfolk.

"It was significant in terms of the media coverage it garnered. The amount of coverage was impressive and pleasing.

"This race was so meaningful because of the level of interest it attracted. The spotlight was shone on women's cycling.

"It offers a great platform and springboard, not only for [Le Tour organisers] ASO, but for other event organisers."