07/14/2013 06:25 EDT | Updated 09/13/2013 05:12 EDT

White Rock cyclists support women's event in Tour de France

Professional cyclists participating in this weekend's Tour de White Rock say they're excited about an online petition asking the Tour de France to allow female professional cycling teams to participate.

"We think the women's races are just as exciting so we'd like to see some more support out there, get more women racing," said Devon Gorry, a professional cyclist from Utah who was racing in White Rock, B.C. this weekend.

Professional male cyclist Mac Garvin, agreed.

"I have a lot of friends who are women who race," he said. "They just don't get the same opportunities although they work just as hard and race just as hard."

The petition was started by four female champion cyclists — Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Marianne Vos and Chrissie Wellington — who say while many women's sports face battles of inequality, road cycling remains one of the worst offenders.

The petition was launched July 12 on and by Sunday evening, it had gathered more than 13,000 signatures.

"For 100 years, the Tour de France has been the pinnacle endurance sports event of the world, watched by and inspiring millions of people. And for 100 years, it has been an exclusively male race," the petition reads.

"Fewer race opportunities, no televised coverage, shorter distances, and therefore salary and prize money inequity. We seek not to race against the men, but to have our own professional field running in conjunction with the men's event, at the same time, over the same distances, on the same days, with modifications in start/finish times so neither gender's race interferes with the other."

A Tour Feminin women's race in France was last staged in 2009, but some cyclists say the event lacked parity, media coverage, and sponsorship.