Marlow cyclist joins battle against gender inequality in the sport

A group of female cyclists headed up by a Marlow rider have been stepping up their efforts to raise awareness of gender inequality in the sport.

Events manager Louise Gibson is part of the InternationalElles – 10 amateur women cyclists who normally ride the Tour de France route one day ahead of the men to highlight the issue.

The coronavirus pandemic has halted their usual plans in 2020, so the team have instead been ‘significantly stepping up the difficulty’.

They have already completed a four-day, non-stop relay of 3,470km, which started at the same time as the Tour on August 29.

Then tomorrow (Friday), the InternationalElles will complete South Wales’ Bwlch climb 26 times, elevating 8,848 metres – the same height as Mount Everest.

Team manager Louise is a double Guinness World Record holder and has raced for Great Britain twice in cycling.

The aim of the InternationalElles is to ride the same distance and elevation as the men complete in the Tour de France – with the activists’ wanting more equality within the sport, including a women’s version of the event.

Louise said: “We were absolutely gutted when we realised that, despite our best efforts, we were not going to be able to ride the route ahead of the men in France this year.

“But we are a determined bunch and have worked tirelessly with our partners to find a way both to make our challenge even harder, to keep the campaign alive and make our voices heard.”

Key points of inequality the riders are seeking to highlight include reducing the gender pay gap in professional cycling, increasing the number and length of women-only races, upping its media coverage and readressing the gender balance in bike designs.

The InternationalElles have been backed by car manufacturer Skoda in their efforts.

A British Cycling spokesperson said: “In 2013 we launched our #WeRide strategy, with the aim of narrowing the historic gender gap in our sport and inspiring one million more women to get on a bike by the end of 2020.

“We surpassed our one million target earlier this year, and in this time we have also: introduced equal prize money across our men’s and women’s road series; trebled our female membership; supported a 70 per cent increase in the number of female coaches; and increased female representation on our board to almost 60 per cent.

“There is of course still work to do, and the InternationElles are doing a fantastic job of raising awareness of this vital issue.

“We wish them the very best of luck in their challenge this week.”

Visit here for more information on the group.

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