A couple of months ago I wrote about 2014 being a very big year for professional women’s cycling. One part of that big year is the Women’s Tour of Britain, a five stage women’s road race which starts tomorrow (7 May 2014) in the small township of Oundle in the east of England.
And I’m pleased to say it’s shaping up to be a bigger deal for the women’s pro peleton than many had expected.
It’s attracted all the major women’s teams and many of their top riders including multiple world champion Marianne Vos who will lead her Liv Giant squad. Australian riders include Shara Gillow, Nettie Edmondson and Australian champion Gracie Elvin riding for Orica-AIS; Chloe Hosking for Hitec Products; Tiffany Cromwell for Specialized-Lululemon; Amy Cure for Lotto-Belisol; and Peta Mullens as a late inclusion for Wiggle-Honda.
You can read more about the race in an excellent article written by Tim Renowden for The Roar, an online sports news site.
The Race Director Mick Bennett also predicts that it’s an important event for women’s cycling, he says in the Race Manual “Welcome to the 2014 Women’s Tour – the first edition of what we hope and believe will be a cycling event that sets new standards for the fair and equal treatment of women cyclists not only in Great Britain but the world.”
He goes on to say that “every stage town is organising a sports festival targeted at attracting young women to engage more widely in sport, healthy living and cycling in particular.” A man after my own heart.
You can read more about the Tour at the official website.
Not only that but the tour will have a daily one-hour TV program that will be seen at prime time on free-to-air TV in Britain but also around the world. In Australia you can see it on pay TV channel Eurosport. This might not sound like a big deal but the only women’s road cycle racing I’ve ever seen on TV in Australia is the Olympic Games (every four years) and the annual World Championships.
And it’s not just people like me that are getting excited about this event. The riders are clearly pleased that their ‘little’ sport is getting some attention, and it’s not just because of the €30,000 prize money.
Australian cyclist Chloe Hosking has written a blog post about the excitement of the race from a participant’s perspective.
As always Sarah Connolly shares her thoughts on women’s racing and provides a thorough rundown on where you can keep up with the news of the race and catch TV highlights.
Social media is always well used to spread the word about women’s cycling, particularly Twitter. The official Twitter handle for the tour is @thewomenstour and Sarah Connolly also provides great updates at @_pigeons_.
Make sure you tune in. Women’s road racing is exciting and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t seen it before.