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New race offers women Champs Elysees finish

PARIS (Reuters) - A newly-created cycling race will allow women to enjoy a finish at a packed Champs Elysees on the final day of the 2014 Tour de France.

The organizers of the world greatest cycling event announced on Saturday that the first edition of "La Course by le Tour de France" will take place on July 27.

The race will be part of the International Cycling Union's (UCI) elite women's calendar.

"A few hours before the men's peloton arrives in Paris ... the world's elite women cyclists will race the circuit in the historic heart of the city before fighting out a final sprint at the finish line on the Champs Elysees," Tour de France organizers ASO said in statement.

"The new event will give an even more universal dimension to the Tour."

Some top women riders, including triple world road champion Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, have already committed to the race that will lead them down the glamorous avenue where men have ended their three-week race for almost 40 years.

"I am very excited to be taking part, especially with the majestic finish on the Champs Elysees," Vos was quoted as saying in the ASO statement.

"The Tour is the pinnacle of professional cycling and I have no doubt that 'La Course by Le Tour' identifies a new era for women's cycling and will significantly contribute to the growth of road racing."

UCI president Brian Cookson praised the initiative as a "tremendous step forward".

"The quality of professional women's road racing has long deserved a wider audience, and we are very happy that this initiative by ASO will bring the sport to many fans, new and old," he said in the statement.

(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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