Ahead of the 2017 HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series getting under way, national governing body British Cycling has announced a significant increase in the number of women taking part in competitive cycling in Britain.
Since 2013 – when British Cycling launched its women’s strategy aiming to get one million more women cycling by 2020 – there has reportedly been a 43% increase in the amount of women holding a race licence, which enables them to race competitively in any cycle sport discipline of their choice.
One of the seven original aims of the British Cycling strategy was to create more opportunities for women to race. Great Britain’s two-time Olympic track champion Joanna Rowsell Shand believes that this latest figure shows that more and more women are being attracted and welcomed into the sport. She said “The huge increase in the number of women cycling competitively is great to see, and is extremely encouraging for the future.
“British Cycling has acknowledged the need to close the traditional gender gap in cycling, and I think that this statistic shows that the great initiatives such as HSBC UK Breeze and women-only coaching sessions are paying dividends when it comes to competitive cycling.
“I’m delighted to see the progress being made on this front – although there is still work to be done, the face of our sport is changing.”
The announcement comes as organisers prepare for this weekend’s Tour of the Wolds, the first event of the HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series, the highlight of the women’s domestic racing season.
Earlier this year, British Cycling announced that prize money for the event will be equal to the men’s Spring Cup and Grand Prix Series for the first time. Meanwhile, it has also been confirmed that all nine of the National Women’s Road Series races will be broadcast in a series of highlights shows, increasing the profile of the events.
Jonny Clay, British Cycling’s Director of Cycling, added “We have put in a considerable amount of work over the past few years – supported by the commitment of our volunteer organisers and officials – to ensure that cycling is a sport that appeals to everyone by taking positive steps that we believe have helped to close the gender gap.
“The growing number of women now holding race licences is a great indication that this work is paying off, and the steps we have taken to grow the profile of the HSBC UK | National Women’s Road Series, in particular ensuring equal prize money, are indicative of our determination to continue the progress of women’s road racing.”