Victoria Pendleton says 'inequality' kept her away from road racing

Former track star marries Scott Gardner, rules out return to cycling

by John Stevenson   September 2, 2013  

Victoria Pendleton waves from the Olympic parade bus (Image CC licensed DCMS:Flickr)

Victoria Pendleton has ruled out returning to cycling and says the inequality between the top male and female cyclists kept her from turning to road cycling during her racing career.

Speaking to the Manchester Evening News while presenting a National Lottery award on behalf of female-only sports programme Us Girls to Stretford High School, Pendleton said she was planning to move to the South of England after marrying her long-time boyfriend Dr Scott Gardner this past weekend.

“I have sold my house and we move next month,” said Pendleton. Gardner is head coach to the Great Britain sprint canoe squad, which is based in Marlow, Buckinghamshire. “Scott’s job means it’s a bit far to commute,” said Pendleton.

Pendleton retired after London 2012 and says she has no plans to come back to cycling.

“I had a racing licence for the first time in 1989 and I didn’t miss a racing season until 2013,” she said.

“I am quite fit because I have been doing a lot of running. But I am probably not as fast because I haven’t done much sprint work.

“I can’t believe a whole year has passed since the Olympics.”

Pendleton had a sometime fractious relationship with her team-mates and the management of the British team, but now looks back fondly on her racing days.

“I miss the training routine and I miss my team-mates and the coaches,” she said. “They are more than just work colleagues.

“I catch up with them as often as I can but it’s not the same as going into your work place every day.

“I wouldn’t say life is better, it’s different and definitely more relaxed. Relaxed is good.

“Not having that weight of expectation is something I have welcomed with open arms.

“There are times when I have a dream about being at training or in a competition and suddenly wake up feeling ‘oh gosh, I need to do something or be somewhere’.

“Then I realise I don’t. It’s quite strange and has taken time to adjust.”

The future of women’s cycling

Track racing has been the most successful branch of women’s cycling in terms of international, and especially Olympic, visibility and the creation of a career path for riders like Pendleton.

But despite the increased visibility of women’s road cycling, and developments such as the Wiggle-Honda women’s team and the recently-announced British Women’s Tour, Pendleton thinks women’s road cycling still has a way to go.

“It was suggested to me that maybe I should consider road cycling long ago,” she said.

“I have had a few people suggest it to me in the past because it was felt that I would be better suited to it.

“But I’ve never really had a huge desire to do it myself, mainly because of the inequality factor.

“When you see your male counterparts living a completely different lifestyle, I think it would be quite depressing! So no, it’s not for me.”

She feels women’s road cycling is on the right road, though.

“I think in terms of the track, women’s cycling has come a long way to be equal to the men’s side of racing. Road racing is a bit different – they are not quite there yet, but it is definitely progressing in the right direction,” she said.

“I think it will take longer to really introduce the changes to make it, in cycle culture, on the same level as men’s road racing.

“It is going to take more time and a lot more investment.

“Having one or two strong teams isn’t going to be enough – it needs to be a whole cycling scene domestically and internationally, to give women something to train for.

“It is going to take a bit more time, but I think what has happened with the track has shown that it can be done.”

12 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Nice to see her moving on with her life.

I do wonder if a kind of team manager role, a la Rochelle Gilmore, might suit her? if nothing else she would be a great inspiration to younger riders.

Or commentary? Again, Gilmore was commentating on the Ride London race; could Pendleton take on that sort of role?

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [591 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 10:41

9 Likes

It is a bit of a loss - now more than ever the sport needs its champions to help those just beginning their journey. Victoria has seen all sides of the sport and knows first hand what it is like to be young and gifted, experiencing the disappointments as much as the later success. I hope she reconsiders because she's got more to give than she thinks and could ever imagine.

posted by leqin [130 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 11:36

12 Likes

I think Victoria just needs to step away for a while and enjoy being herself. to quote from the story, didn't miss a racing season between 89 & 13, hardcore!

.

Victoria may be able to bring her experience to other sports which don't receive as much funding as cycling (such as canoe). I'm sure if she wants a career in cycling she'll get one

posted by kitkat [228 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 12:32

14 Likes

kitkat wrote:
I think Victoria just needs to step away for a while and enjoy being herself. to quote from the story, didn't miss a racing season between 89 & 13, hardcore!

.

Victoria may be able to bring her experience to other sports which don't receive as much funding as cycling (such as canoe). I'm sure if she wants a career in cycling she'll get one

I agree.

If you read her autobiography you would have some idea of the huge mental stress she went through during her career, so I'm not the least bit surprised she wants to do something different. She is already a great role model and has nothing to prove.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2051 posts]
2nd September 2013 - 14:45

15 Likes

Will Victoria Pendleton ever stop whining? Will the Daily Express ever stop printing stories about Princess Diana? My Magic 8 Ball tells me both things look doubtful.

posted by David French [49 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 7:49

11 Likes

This girl is in it for the glory and the spotlight and very little else it seems. She retired before ever really achieving anything of note imo.

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 15:16

9 Likes

Karbon Kev wrote:
This girl is in it for the glory and the spotlight and very little else it seems. She retired before ever really achieving anything of note imo.

really? unbeaten national champion in two disciplines for seven successive years, 13 other national titles, nine world titles and two olympic golds?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7498 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 15:22

21 Likes

Dave Atkinson wrote:
Karbon Kev wrote:
This girl is in it for the glory and the spotlight and very little else it seems. She retired before ever really achieving anything of note imo.

really? unbeaten national champion in two disciplines for seven successive years, 13 other national titles, nine world titles and two olympic golds?

Ha ha Oh that Victoria? Rolling On The Floor

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [470 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 15:26

6 Likes

David French wrote:
Will Victoria Pendleton ever stop whining? Will the Daily Express ever stop printing stories about Princess Diana? My Magic 8 Ball tells me both things look doubtful.

Nice girl from on the vaneer, but a bag of neurosis that bubbles up like 'old faithful'.

I can understand her comments about the disparity between men and women's cycling. Though I don't understand why she should say the comparison would depress her. I know they don't earn much, but if they cycled at equal speeds to the men then there just wouldn't be a disparity.

It does feel like that the women want a leg up, but primarily off the back of the men, rather than being willing to put time and effort into making the sport of women's cycling a success. It's not like men's cycling (or indeed most sports) were instant successes, and many of the founding fathers were paid a pittance. But hey-ho, it's not a fair world is it?!

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1199 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 15:34

10 Likes

Personally I think Victoria retired too young - she would have been capable of at least another Olympics. A comeback would not surprise me. I think she's too motivated to win to be able to cope without competition for too long.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 19:06

9 Likes

Too right. Would be better to see her at Home.

posted by dogcc [122 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 19:09

11 Likes

Interesting how the Sun readers descend on a thread about a successful woman.

Don't let your wives see though lads, you are supposed to be ironing their trousers instead.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2051 posts]
3rd September 2013 - 20:33

16 Likes