14 Apr, 2015

Let’s hear it for the girls


We have all heard about Cycling South Africa’s (CSA) Women’s Commission, how the ABSA Cape Epic’s prize purse for the women matches that of the men’s as well as the new start group for elite women at the Cape Town Cycle Tour - By Tamaryn Kietzmann

These are all positive changes and developments for women’s cycling…But how does that affect the everyday woman who just wants to ride her bike?

Last year, we saw history being made with the first ever La Course race taking place around the Champs Elysees before the final stage of Le Tour de France. This was initiated by some of the top women in cycling and was broadcasted live internationally.

This is a clear indication that there is massive growth in the sport to have a specific start batches and live broadcasted races just for women.

The Cape Town Cycle Tour (formally Argus) has never had an exclusive start batch just for women, where other, often much smaller races often have a specific start batch for women.

Now you are probably thinking … why is it so important to have this separation in races?

It allows for a more even playing field for the women in contention as it is about racing each other and not about who is comfortable or able to ride in a men’s bunch.

Which brings us to the next point, you don’t have to ride in and among a big bunch of men who ride a lot more aggressively and competitively. The spectators also get an opportunity to view some of the top women cycling and battling each other for the win.

Each start batch also has its own neutral following vehicle (as well as those of the teams), giving the necessary back up should the rider get into any unfortunate trouble or have a mechanical issue.

The biggest benefit of all is … safety! With a smaller, and more controllable group, the elite women cyclists are able to ride and get assistance much more efficiently and this allows them to ride with ease and comfort.

It is suggested that every women who owns a bike purchase a racing license and be part of the growth in women’s cycling start batches.

The ABSA Cape Epic is a gruelling, eight-day stage race covering some of the toughest terrain in the Western Cape. It is the exact same route and course for both men and women … so why was there different prize purses? It was reasons like this that hamper growth and opportunities for women’s cycling.

With Sasol Oil coming on board and sponsoring the prize purse to match that of the men, it levelled the playing field. This has meant an increase in the competition and competitive playing field within the category and every year we see more and more extremely strong and talented women’s teams taking part in not only this event but in many other cycling events.

It has created more exposure for the women which leads to more focus and interest on women’s cycling. This is great and all but what does it mean to the everyday woman who owns a bike?

It has simulated interest, growth, respect and increased sponsorship in women’s cycling. This means you as a women, and those behind you (juniors, youth) will have many more opportunities and roads to develop in cycling which might even result in a career for you.

South Africa is also one of the few nations which offers prize purses of this nature for women. You never know…it might just be you on that podium winning the prize money one day!

And lastly, in order to ensure constructive and helpful growth in a sport, there needs to be a governing body which can manage and control this.

Last year, CSA introduced the Women’s Cycling Commission. This is a group of passionate women who ride, race, train and travel often to races across all disciplines.

They promote and encourage all women to ride and race in the various women’s groups and have made huge strides in developing the competitive nature of women’s cycling.

This change will benefit all the girls starting out in cycling as well as the ones who have been doing it for years. It is a positive and much needed change to cycling and this is evident in the growing number of women in the start batches at races.

The Women’s Cycling Commission is the voice of women’s cycling!

This is a forum for everyone, from the pro rider to the weekend warrior. All women are encouraged to promote and be a part of the women’s commission by doing a small few changes, such as: like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, wear purple, take out a racing license, do as many races as possible and most importantly have FUN!

It may seem like a daunting task being on the start line with some of the top riders in women’s cycling but it actually isn’t that bad! I can tell you this from personal experience. It will improve your riding, allow you to build more confidence as well as have fun and make new friends.

Hope to see you all on the start line in the future races!

(Tamaryn Kietzmann is a Specialized brand ambassador, trail lover, roadie and triathlete because “life is too short for one discipline”.)

Tamaryn Kietzmann

Tamaryn Kietzmann

Journalist |

Tamaryn Kietzmann is a Specialized brand ambassador, trail lover, roadie and triathlete because "life is too short for one discipline".