Neutral Service’s monthly (or thereabouts) women’s cycling news round-up
To stay up to date with all the latest news, follow NS on Facebook and search #womenscycling on Twitter
New sponsor, rider and kit for Matrix
One of Britain’s longest-lived women’s cycling teams, Matrix Procycling, has announced it’s entered into a partnership with Lazer Sport, the well-known helmet manufacturer which already backs a number of cycling events and organisations, including the British national cycling federation. “Having a company like Lazer choose us gives us great confidence,” says the team’s owner and manager Stef Wyman. “Many of our riders are familiar with Lazer products from its partnership with British Cycling. The development we have seen happening with Lazer and the new products being released makes everyone confident that we have a fantastic partnership as we start a brand new phase with the team.”
The team has also signed a new rider, Dutch sprinter Laurine van Riessen – who got the entire cycling world talking with her “wall of death” tactics to avoid a crash on the track during the 2016 Olympic Games. Laurine, who has one four National Championships including the 500m TT and keirin as well as the inidividual sprint, is already familiar with sponsor Matrix Fitness, having worked with the company during her previous athletic career as a speed skater, during which she won a bronze medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics. “Together with Matrix Fitness Benelux and Matrix Pro Cycling, I will get the support I need to achieve my goals as a track cyclist,” says the 29-year-old. “During our conversations, it soon became clear that my vision matches their team philosophy. Not only do they [Matrix] want to create more opportunities for women’s cycling, but they also value highly sportsmanship and health. They have a clear story and my goal to participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo was received with great enthusiasm. I’m very proud to be cycling under the flag of Matrix Pro Cycling from now on.”
Finally, the team has revealed a few teasers regarding its 2017 kit design, produced by sponsors Milltag, which will feature a tribute to a rider many consider to be Britain’s greatest ever – and most overlooked – athlete Beryl Burton. The tribute takes the form of a capital B made up of the numbers 6 and 7, commemorating the year that Burton, having already won the World Championships for the second time after becoming the first ever British World RR Champion seven years earlier, she famously beat every rider including the men at the National 12-hr TT Championships, setting a new women’s record that remains unbeaten to this day. The new kit will be unveiled at the official team launch in Manchester next weekend, and NS will be there to get a photo of it.
New sponsor and rider for Les Filles
For the first time in the team’s history, Les Filles – until now funded by its own riders – has taken on a named sponsor in Queen of the Mountains, the women’s high-perfomance cycling clothing company owned by Alicia Bamford. Imperial Cycles also continues to support the team, which is now in its fifth season of racing.
“Les Filles and Queen of the Mountains are looking forward to working together to promote awareness of women’s cycling and in turn, encourage more women to take up cycling as a sport and increase participation in women’s racing,” says an official press release.
The team keeps riders Delia Beddis, Tracy Corbett, Sophie Curle, Louise Mahe, Helen McKay and Nicole Oh, who will be joined by Louise Moriarty, who has been Irish National TT Champ twice and won four events at the Irish National Track Championships in 2008 in addition to enjoing a successful road career that saw her win Tielt-Winge in 2007 and the Ras na mBan a year later. “Part-time/semi-retired/social members” Clem Copie, Laura Greenhalgh and Alexie Shaw also retain their links to Les Filles and may make appearances for them this season, as may regular guests Claire Gillot, Coralie Glaunes and Jayne Paine.
Team Storey Sport
Team Storey Sport was finally announced by Britain’s all-time most successful Paralympian Sarah Storey and her husband Barney.
The team’s existence has been something of an open secret ever since it was revealed last year that Boardman would be supplying bikes to a new team, and that their previous project Podium Ambition had come to the end of the rails due to financial difficulties. Beth Crumpton, Monica Dew, Hannah Dines, Neah Evans, EJay Harris and Katie Prankerd, who were all with Podium Ambition, will join the Storeys at the new team; Laura Cameron, Jennifer George, Danni Khan, Chanel Mason and Mercy Webb also come aboard.
Cleethorpes Super Prix
Rich Stoodley is a name many people will recognise – he previously organised the Tickhill GP, and brought a women’s race to it back in 2014 – which, although he worried a month before the event that he might have set his sights too high, proved to be a huge success. His latest project is the Cleethorpes Super Prix, to take place on the 17th of September this year, which is being wholeheartedly supported by North-East Lincolnshire Council – enabling him to hold the event on the town seafront.
Rich has always been especially keen on promoting women’s cycling, and as a result the new event includes races for riders in the E/1/2 categories, the 3/4 categories and for U12/14/16 girls. “In 2014, event organisers Velocity Events took the bold step to raise the profile of women’s racing, offering equal status and equal prize money to that of the men,” he says. “Continuing to help support this growth, this will be a great chance to watch some of the best female riders and teams in the country and from overseas competing head to head. The race will attract several big names and make no bones about it, the women’s race is just as cut and thrust as the men’s. We are again proud to be supporting women’s cycling and by promoting these races and working with the teams, this will be one of the biggest and most prestigious women’s events of the year.”
Riders can enter the race via British Cycling, and while he realises that many riders can’t commit to a race still six months in the future, he’s still recruiting sponsors and says he’d be very appreciative of any riders able to sign up sooner rather than later so that he prove the level of interest to potential backers who may be unaware of the popularity of women’s cycling.
Matrix Tour Series teams announced
Lizzie Deignan autobiography
Steadfast, the most hotly-anticipated autobiography in women’s cycling since Marianne Vos’ Op de Troon (which still isn’t available in English, unfortunately), is due to be published on the 20th of April with the Kindle and hardback versions available for pre-order at £6.99 and £16.99 respectively.
Lizzie is well-known for liking her privacy, so this long-awaited story – put on hold for the Olympics last year and then her marriage – promises to give us a fascinating look into her life and career, as well providing plenty of insight into how it feels to be one of the top professional cyclists in the world.
Eight British teams for Yorkshire
Eight British teams are confirmed as taking part in this year’s Tour de Yorkshire on the 28th of April. The teams – Drops, Ford Ecoboost, Jadan-Weldtite, NCC Group-Kuota-Torelli, Wiggle-High5, WNT, Fusion-Fierlan and Sarah Storey’s new Team Storey Sport – will face a tough 122.5km route starting at Tadcaster and ending at Harrogate and taking in the Cote de Lofthouse, known to locals as Trapping Hill, which has several sections with gradients well over 15%.
In The News
Houvenaghel speaks out on BC
“Former Great Britain Olympic rider Wendy Houvenaghel says that she experienced bullying and sexism during her time with the British cycling team. Speaking to the BBC, Houvenaghel said that British Cycling had a ‘medal at any cost’ approach to their riders which led to a ‘culture of fear’.” – Cycling Weekly
Liv Cycling’s Bonnie Tu says the future is bright for women’s cycling
“Bonnie Tu is a woman at the very top of the bike industry; chief financial officer at Giant Bicycles, the founder of Liv Cycling, now chairperson for Giant Global Group, advocate for and ardent supporter of women’s cycling. She wields significant influence and has undisputed business nous, so if she says women’s cycling is on the up, you’d better sit up and listen.” – BikeRadar
Amid British Cycling crisis women’s cycling in UK on the up, says leading team
“The headlines might suggest otherwise, but Britain’s top professional team believe women’s cycling in the UK has never been stronger. The riders and staff of Wiggle High5, ranked second in the world, have read all about the crisis engulfing British Cycling’s elite programmes since Jess Varnish accused former performance director Shane Sutton of sexist remarks when she was dropped from the team.” –Eurosport
Opinion: Time to be bold for change in women’s cycling
“Every year, International Women’s Day brings us a new theme to be inspired. This year the theme was around being bold for change (#BeBoldForChange). A worthy aim, so as International Women’s Day slips off into the sunset around the world, let’s not also let the drive to make a difference fade after this one day. In that spirit I’m going to be bold and call on cycling to take on a year of change for women in the sport.” – Monique Hanley, Ella
What it’s like to train with women cyclists in Majorca ahead of The Women’s Tour in London
“It was a favourite training ground of cycling superstar Sir Bradley Wiggins, who helped turn Majorca into a Mecca for the sport. The bike on which he became world time trial champion in 2014 hangs proudly from the ceiling of a local restaurant and cyclists are lured by the challenging terrain, stunning landscapes and safe highways. So what better place to meet some of the world’s top women riders who will hit the roads of central London this summer as the capital hosts The Women’s Tour for the first time?”- Evening Standard
E3 Harelbeke could hold women’s race in 2018
“In recent years, men’s races have increasingly seen the benefit in holding a concurrent women’s event. Most of the major Classics now hold a women’s race, including the Tour of Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and the Ardennes races, and it looks like E3 Harelbeke may be about to join their ranks. Lotta Lepistö (Cervelo Bigla) won the women’s Dwars door Vlaanderen race on Wednesday, hours before the finish of the men’s race. Race organiser Marc Claerhout told Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad that there could be a women’s E3 Harelbeke as soon as next season.” – Cycling News
Ipswich Spring Scramble
“Ipswich Spring Scramble is one of the first road races of the season and is the first event on the Women’s Eastern Racing League (WERL) calendar. There’s always a good turn out and a high standard of racing. Being just 10 miles away from home, it’s nice because the roads are familiar, I know the twists and turns and possibly even the pot holes, but, that still doesn’t make it much easier. It’s always a slog and it’s almost always windy, with exposed roads. The course also shares some of it’s roads with Ipswich Bicycle Club’s chain-gang, and so I suppose all I associate this course with is pain…” – Gemma Melton
52 Cycling Voices – 6: Grace and Lucy Garner
“At the recent London Bike Show I caught up with sisters, Grace and Lucy Garner, professional cycle racers in the Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling team. They talked about how cycling has always been part of their lives. Lucy talks about her instinct to look out for her younger sister, while Grace talks about why she doesn’t always want to share a room with her older sister!” – Maria David
Sarah interviews… Isla Rowntree, on transforming cycling
“Isla Rowntree is most well-known for starting IslaBikes, a company that transformed children’s bicycles, with all kinds of child-friendly innovations. If you look up reviews, or ask online, they’re always the top recommendation and influencer, and right now there are kids everywhere loving cycling because of Rowntree’s work…” – Pro Women’s Cycling