Olympic success makes cycling "sexy"...

“Cycling IS sexy” the nice PR lady from the London-Paris bike ride told road.cc today. And those sentiments seem to be borne out by a big rise in the female membership of British Cycling and the record number of women signing up for the London-Paris bike ride.

Female memberships of British Cycling has risen by 25 per cent in the past year, a trend attributed to the success of Britain's female Olympic cyclists: Nicole Cooke, Victorial Pendleton and Rebecca Romero. Women's are the fastest growing category of new British Cycling members and 44 per cent of them hold a racing licence.

British Cycling’s chief executive, Ian Drake, said: “British Cycling has seen a significant increase in the number of women getting involved in cycling, both in competitive and leisure cycling.  The success of British Cycling's female athletes in  recent years, and in particular the Olympic success in Beijing, has inspired a whole new generation of  women to take up cycling as a sport and as an activity for improving their health and fitness.”

The growth in the numbers of women taking part in competitive cycling events is also reflected in the entries for London-Paris 09. According to the organisers 25 of the 280 riders taking part will be women. London-Paris 09 covers 520km in three days and features rolling road closures and full logistical support.

London-Paris 09 Cycle Tour Ride Captain, Rachel Przybylski said: “Last year I was struck by the strength and determination of the women participants."   Rachel and some of the other women riders from the 2008 London-Paris ride posed for a charity calendar which helped raise £51,462 in 2008.

"On the ride, there was no lipstick and high heels. We save that for the celebrations when we get to Paris. But as our photos show, we can be glamorous and what better way to promote women’s cycling?”

More pics here

Przybylski, 28, who works at the NASDAQ OMX Europe stock exchange in the city, added: “Cycling used to be about old men in village halls (nothing wrong with old men in village halls! - ed) but now the sport has successful, glamorous women winning Olympic medals and women are now realising that cycling is a sport for them too. The London-Paris Cycle Tour is a great opportunity for women to ride at the highest level. The event is a real motivation for mind and body. Last year I met some really inspirational people and I can’t wait for this year’s event.”

This year’s riders include former World Champion, Tour de France and Giro winner Stephen Roche, former England and Crystal Palace footballer Geoff Thomas and Scott Sunderland, the new sports director of British Cycling’s Tour de France team Team Sky, who helped mastermind Carlos Sastre’s Tour de France victory in 2008.

This year’s event runs from June 25-28 and has four charity partners, the Geoff Thomas Foundation (a leukaemia charity set up by former England footballer Geoff Thomas), youth education charity Christel House, Schools for Children of Cambodia and South Africa’s Morning Star, which works with children with HIV. The London-Paris women posed for a fundraising calendar to help support the event’s partners and riders raised £51,462 in 2008.

More about London-Paris 2009
The London-Paris 09 Cycle Tour runs from June 25 – 28 and is sponsored by adidas, Science in Sport, Subaru, Specialized, Cyclevox, Sigma Sport and British Cycling.

London-Paris Calendar pics: Michael Ballan

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.