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Dame Sarah Storey says she won't risk life by racing on open roads

14-time Paralympic champ also highlights financial challenge women's team face...

Dame Sarah Storey, who last month won the 14th Paralympic gold medal of her career, has said she is not prepared to risk her life by racing on open roads.

Speaking to the BBC Sport in an interview coinciding with Women’s Sport Week, the 38-year-old also highlighted the financial pressures facing teams in women’s cycling.

The former Paralympic swimmer, who switched to cycling ahead of Beijing 2008 and has won nine gold medals on the track and the road, told BBC Sport: "You have to keep your wits about you and be prepared to meet a car coming head on when you cross that white line.

“That's not ideal. You should be racing on closed roads all the time.

"That's one of the big things I'd like to see change for women in the UK."

According to BBC Sport, of more than 1,500 races held in the UK this year, 450 are on public roads with 1,077 typically on closed circuits either specifically designed for cycling, or at motor racing circuits or airfields.

Some events, such as the 3 Days of Bedford Women’s Stage Race, rely on motorists to respect the directions of volunteer marshals and stop when riders are approaching, although race staff instructions are sometimes ignored.

> Impatient driver pushes past race marshal onto course – and then stops for an argument

Top events such as the Women’s Tour stage race or the one-day Women’s Tour de Yorkshire employ rolling road closures, while the Prudential RideLondon Classique takes place on fully closed roads.

The latter is the richest women’s race in the world, with prize money equal to that on offer in the men’s Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic, held the same weekend.

Storey also said she wanted to see more women take up bike racing but highlighted the financial challenges facing the sport.

“Although it’s fairly even on the track, when you get to the road there’s still massive disparity.”

She said the introduction of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, while addressing some issues, had “created a ladder to climb.”

Storey, who with her husband Barney set up the Podium Ambition Pro Cycling powered by Club La Santa team, went on: “Unless you’re actually winning those races, you’re not necessarily going to get any coverage.

“But we need to attract the coverage if we’re going to get the sponsorship,” she added.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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