This month I want to talk to you about something I realised and experienced racing the OVOWT stage race in UK. A race where I think most of the peloton finished broken into pieces after the super hard racing we put on during every single stage.
After stage races like this I understand even more how professional, big and serious women’s cycling is becoming. It’s becoming more difficult every year to win a race and to compete at the top level you always need to be in very good form. There is no room for bad days on your bike and, if it happens to you, your chance for a GC victory or podium is no more.
I researched a lot during past few days about what is needed for a female pro cyclist to win a World Tour race, and despite the fact that races are 15% longer than 10 years ago, our medium and maximum power output has increased at the same time by about 10%. 10%!!!! Last year preparing for Team Time Trial World Championships with my Canyon//SRAM team, I did many aerodynamic tests on the track with my TT bike in order to be as efficient as possible, to save as many watts as possible and be the fastest I could be. I saved around 4% of my threshold power by changing my position and it felt like a huge improvement, so I can assure you 10% is definitely a lot.
Despite the fact that I know how hard it is now to win and know how much the competition between teams and girls is increasing year by year, I am happy to have had the chance to be a rider in this flourishing time for our sport.
10 years ago women’s cycling didn’t have the opportunity to race along the central streets of London or Paris with thousands of people cheering along the road or people waiting outside of your camper after the race to take a picture or to sign autographs.
With a peloton composed by 80% of girls that are paid by their team and are able to do cycling as a proper job, spectators don’t see girls dropped 1 kilometre after the start. Instead they see aggressive racers, attacks on the climbs, breakaways and thrilling sprints. At at the end of the day they create a real spectacle without the need to pay for a ticket for a movie at the cinema.
I am also pretty sure that most of the women who have watched any race on the road feel motivated to go out on their bike the day after if they own one already, or invest in their health and buy one in order to get fit and fast like the girls they saw the day before.
Sponsors know that and love to support us, giving us the opportunity to race with the best equipment we can have because they are sure of the immense power we have.
Let’s take an example: to race the biggest race in the calendar yet, La Course by Le Tour de France. This year Rapha wants us Canyon//SRAM riders to race with a special edition kit inspired by Women 100, a global event aimed at encouraging more women to ride more often. It turns out that Canyon, Giro, Oakley, Boa also liked the idea and started a collaboration and we will now showcase the new design from top to toe, bike included. For sure, it will bring a lot of media attention during the most high-profile race.
We are a clever and very motivated peloton, when big media possibilities are given to us, we never miss the chance to show the world how good women’s cycling is and how much we are stepping forward, even if it means I have to race 62 kilometres in one hour and 28 minutes with and average heart rate of 17e bpm :-).