Backed by multiple world champion Marianne Vos, the UCI has declared July 20-27 to be Women’s Cycling Week. It’s the week leading up to La Course, the women’s race on the Champs-Élysées on the final day of the Tour de France and will include a programme of events aiming to raise the profile of women’s cycling.
The UCI says it intends Women’s Cycling Week “to grow the profile of women’s cycling at every level via a series of events that will take place throughout the month of July to get more girls and women riding.”
Those events include:
Ride to Paris: A group of 25 amateur women cyclists from across the world will ride from Utrecht in the Netherlands to Paris in just four days, arriving on 26 July the day before La Course by le Tour de France. Along the way they will be sharing their experiences on UCI website and social media.
Female elite riders will be setting the pace for women participants in L’Etape du Tour on July 20. In addition, every female rider registered to ride in L’Etape will receive a free ‘La Course by Le Tour de France’ branded cycling jersey from the UCI (www.letapedutour.com).
Cycling training video company The Sufferfest, which sponsors the women’s World Cup series has created a new training film - Halfiseasy - with footage from women’s races which will be shown in gyms worldwide.
The UCI is inviting women riders to use Twitter to share their cycling experiences and show how they have pushed their boundaries using the hashtags #owntheroad, #ownthetrail, #ownthejumps, #ownthetrack. Best tweets will be shared on @UCI_cycling and @UCIWomenCycling.
UCI President Brian Cookson will present medals to La Course by le Tour de France podium finishers.
Marianne Vos, a leader of the Le Tour Entier campaign that helped secure the La Course race, current overall leader of the women’s Tour of Italy, multiple world champion and widely considered to be the best all-round bike racer since Eddy Merckx, has given her support to Women’s Cycling Week.
Vos said: “The sport has grown in the last few years and it is great to celebrate the achievement of women's cycling. During this dedicated week, I especially look forward to La Course and meeting the girls riding #RoadtripParis on the Champ Elysees.
“My dream is to make cycling more accessible to women. I want to take the best from both men’s and women’s cycling and use this to create a stage from which the dreams of every aspiring cyclist can be launched, whether they are young, old, fellow professionals or future talents.”
UCI Vice-president Tracey Gaudry said: “The UCI is determined to maximise recognition of women in cycling as a sport and for participation. We are not alone with this ambition and have embraced that the rise of women’s cycling must involve everybody. There’s enormous diversity on the Women’s Commission with leaders representing women’s teams, sponsors, events, media, coaches and athletes. We'll be finalising our strategy at our next meeting in a couple of weeks in Paris, in conjunction with La Course by Le Tour de France.
“Our priorities can be achieved by working with, and supporting the initiatives of cycling stakeholders – such as La Course by le Tour de France by ASO. This outstanding event will showcase the strength, thrill and drama of women’s cycling to millions of viewers worldwide.”
UCI President Brian Cookson said: “We are entering an historic moment for women’s cycling with La Course by Le Tour de France on July 27 which will attract a level of media focus and attention on women’s cycling never before seen in the history of the sport. It is critically important that as a sport we embrace this unique opportunity to further shine the light on women’s cycling, and get more girls and women riding bikes. This is exactly what the WCW is seeking to achieve.
“Since I became UCI President nine months ago, we have made unprecedented investment in the funding of broadcast packages around the UCI Women Road World Cup. This followed the appointment of Tracey Gaudry as the UCI’s first Women Vice-president, and the establishment of the UCI’s first Women’s Commission. While we still have much to do, I believe that 2014 will be remembered as a breakout year for women’s cycling.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.