The Total Women's Cycling Awards have existed since 2014. They're a chance for us, and our readers, to show appreciation for the brands, organisations, and individuals who are working hard to give women in cycling a better deal.
The awards are entirely reader voted. This year thousands of women took the time to fill out our five minute questionnaire and show the cycling world which brands are impressing them the most. TWC's editorial team selected a shortlist for each award, but we also left an 'other' box for additional submissions. We counted those too, just in case we'd missed anyone special.
With the votes counted, and your opinions made abundantly clear, all that was left for us to do was unveil the winners....
Friendly faces, famous faces, and fizz...
Our awards ceremony took place at the Cycle Show, in Birmingham's NEC centre today. Former Dualthlon World Champion Annie Emmerson hosted the ceremony, first interviewing guests Joanna Rowsell Shand and Manon Carpenter before we moved on to handing out the gongs.
With the dust settling on the season just past, Roswsell Shand is looking ahead to new challenges, still debating her presence in Tokyo after the next four year Olympic cycle. She commented "there's still so much more I want to do" and it seems her plans extend to those on and off the track.
Manon Carpenter, having recently broken her collarbone at the World Championships, is raring to go and looking ahead to the new season eagerly. Discussing her goals, she said: "I just want to go faster, and win a World Cup round."
The audience was made up of a wide range of women's cycling aficionados - from brand representatives, to incredible distance riders Emily Chappell and Emily Conrad-Pickles (plus one more also there to claim an award!), to entrepreneurs such as Anna Glowinski and Alicia Bamford of Anna's Legs and Queen of the Mountains respectively. And so many more - we're sorry we can't name everyone who came, but we would like to extend a huge 'Thank You' to all who were there to enjoy the event.
Of course, they were all there for a very special reason. So without further ado, here are the award winners...
Best Bike Brand: Liv
Liv was born as its own standalone women's only brand in 2010 - its parent company being the well known cycling giant: Giant.
Their objectives were to make bikes, clothing and accessories for every type of female rider. They wanted to make cycling accessible, whilst still ensuring they made quality bikes that were worthy of the pro peloton - sponsoring Rabobank-Liv and Liv-Plantur.
Liv believe that most women are best suited to riding a female specific frame, and they design their bikes with that in mind.
A high proportion of Liv's engineers and designers are female too and their passion for making bikes that work for women shines through in everything they do.
Liv ambassador Megan McDonald collected the award for the brand, and said she was pleased to be a part of a brand making such a difference in the world of women's cycling.
Best Road Clothing Brand: Rapha
Rapha have been outfitting the cycling crowd for a couple of years now, but this is the first time they've won the award in this prestigious category.
Perhaps it's their support for Canyon//SRAM and THAT kit that swung it? Or the fact that they finally created a sports bra made specifically for cycling? Or maybe it's just the wide range of kit they offer in so many stunning styles.
Regardless - Rapha topped the bill this year, and judging by their stunning new autumn/winter line up - we'll be spotting lots of it on the roads this coming season!
Marta, Rapha's PR guru, collected the hotly contested award and said she was so pleased to see Rapha's dedication to women's cycling was making a difference, commenting that there's lots more to come!
Best Mountain Bike Clothing Brand
Flare clothing was founded by off-road trail lover Hannah Myers. An avid rider, she's also into fashion - and he just wasn't happy with what was on the market. So, she fixed it with her own new brand.
Known for bright and bold designs, Flare MTB kit helps its riders stand out on the trails with eye-catching colour-ways, all backed up by quality fabrics and technical features.
There's something for every type of MTBer - from enduro junkies to the downhill diva. Obviously enough of you are finding your boxes ticked by this relatively new brand - because they're our 2016 winners.
Hannah was completely bowled over to have won the category, and wins the prize for 'most surpirsed winner' as well. We think she's done an incredible job and are looking forward to seeing what the future holds for Flare.
Best Cycling Retailer: Wiggle Bike Shop
Orange 'W' for the win!
Wiggle bike shop stock a wide range of... well, everything you need - from bikes to tools to clothing, helmets and shoes.
They're also synonymous with one of the leading women's teams in the pro peloton: Wiggle High5. The retailer has been on board since the beginning, and shows no signs of backing off.
This year, they also launched a home bike repair service for those who live within the M25. It's a service we put to the test, rather meanly with our most unloved bicycle, and one they hope to take to a wider reach.
Finally - for those not wanting to shell out for some of the super pricey kit on the market, but who still want quality cycling gear - Wiggle offer their own brand of kit: dhb. The own-brand offers lots of great cycling kit, cut for women, at affordable prices.
Claire Layfield picked up the award and said she and the Wiggle team looked forward to working with TWC even more to make sure they were reaching and catering for women who ride.
Best Mass Participation Women's Cycling Event: Rapha 100
The Rapha Women's 100 is now four years old - and every year it has seen more women pledge to ride 100km on the same day.
The event is global, it has no fixed headquarters (aside from Awesome House, Awesome Street, Rad-town) and that means anyone can take part. A mobile phone with Twitter or Instagram and the capacity to use the #Rapha100 is a 'nice to have' though.
Riders pledge their allegiance via Strava, and ideally team up with some friends to encourage others to get involved.
For those who are looking for a ride leader, Rapha also offer up their ambassadors all over the world who organise routes and ride buddies for those who might otherwise be riding alone.
Rapha's Marta was back up to collect this one - the brand were thrilled to collect the prize in a category that's all about getting women on the bike.
Best Women's Cycling Initiative: This Girl Can
This Girl Can arrived on our screens and our bus shelters in 2015. It's a Sport England campaign and the objective is to encourage women to get into sport. Not necessarily to be competitive (though of course they can be!) but just to enjoy getting and feeling fitter.
The campaign came as a direct response to survey results that showed 75 per cent of women wanted to do more exercise, but felt self conscious. The women in the ads are all identifiable characters, sort-of-not-looking-their-best, but also looking absolutely-bloody-awesome. Que: we all realise that sweating isn't all that embarrassing. More: empowering.
The campaign has moved beyond the realms of its own self contained bubble. We now hear 'This Girl Can' used on a regular basis as a phrase preceding female confidence. It's like the antidote to 'like a girl' - and that's a sign of success. Beyond that: it's also won a TWC award.
Sadly, no one could be there on the day to collect the award but the team did send us a lovely acceptance speech:
This Girl Can is a celebration of women and girls who have found their own way and reasons to get active - no matter how fast or slow, expert or beginner. We strongly believe that it's the taking part that counts - but that doesn't mean we're not thrilled about winning this. So thank you, thank you, thank you to all the readers of Total Women's Cycling for your votes and to everyone who has tweeted, posted, and supported This Girl Can - you are the people who are persuading other women and girls that sport and physical activity really is something they can do.
Sorry we can't be there to celebrate with you - we've been inspired by the ad ourselves and are taking part in out first triathlon tomorrow. Hope you all have a fabulous night getting your freak on.
Lots of love
The This Girl Can team
Best Pro Road Rider: Lizzie Armitstead
Considering Armitstead is the reigning World Champion, her winning this hotly contested category wasn't an earth shattering surprise.
The newly married Yorkshire rider has had to face some tough criticism lately - following three missed drugs tests that almost saw her miss out on the Rio Olympic road race. However, she openly and honestly offered her defense for these and went on to race her way to Copacabana beach.
We interviewed Armitstead back in April this year - discussing her own battles with confidence (now laid to rest), her focus on climbing (and how to improve) and her self coaching techniques. It struck us that she was a stunningly down to earth rider, despite her incredible success, talent and determination.
Lizzie couldn't make it to the awards - and having got married just a week ago we weren't surprised! Her award was collect by Joanna Rowsell Shand, who is a good friend of Lizzie's (and still has hold of her 2007 National Crit Champion trophy, having accepted that one too!)
Best Off-Road Pro: Rachel Atherton
Atherton and co moved to pastures new this year, signing with Trek for the provision of their race winning bicycles. It was Trek who collected Rachel's award too - an honour they told us they were very proud to carry out.
Race winning they were indeed! Rachel won not only the UCI World Championships, but EVERY round of the UCI World Cup - breaking records along the way. Her racing story for 2016 simply couldn't have been more perfect.
Off the downhill track, Atherton also hosted events designed to spread her passion and bring more women into downhill mountain biking. TWC attended the Atherton Experience Day earlier this year, complete with obligatory fan girl moment!
Trek's Helen Gues
And - then on Saturday Rachel was there to take the award home for real.
Unsung Heroine: Kajsa Tylen
Kajsa Tylen set off on New Year's Day to ride her bike: all year.
The 39-year old business analyst and small business owner is aiming to break the record for the most miles cycled in a year by one woman. Currently, she looks in good stead.
Not content with aiming to break the longstanding record of 31,069 miles (50,000 kilometres) - she's also using her challenge to encourage other women to make their own 'Sweat Pledges' and support her by getting more active themselves.
Kajsa received many, many nominations from readers, all of them breathtaken both by her ride, and also by the constant stream of inspiration coming from the 'Sweat Challenges' she's encouraged other women to take on.
Despite being mid-way through her year long record attempt, Kajsa made time to come along to the awards and we were so very happy to welcome her. She said she was pleased to see other women being inspired by what she's doing. And somehow that sentiment made us feel even MORE inspired!
Unsung Heroines: Charlotte Easton
This year, we decided to give out two Unsung Heroine Awards. There was one lady who received such heartwarming nominations that we knew she just had to win.
Charlotte Easton was a pillar of the London women's cycling community. Back in 2008, she and TWC freelancer Maria David set up the London Women's Cycle Racing Facebook group, which eventually become the London Women's Cycle Racing League in 2009. Now, the league has progressed and was nominated in its own right as Best Initiative this year.
Charlotte sadly passed away earlier this year, after a long battle with cancer that spanned several years. Through her treatment and remission, she continued to return to racing - constantly acting as a beacon of inspiration to women in the area.
In her 36-years, Charlotte inspired so many and did so much - which is why she becomes our second Unsung Heroine of 2016.
The award was collected my Maria David. She spoke about Charlotte's incredible life, her passion and the inspiration that she was to so many women in the community. It's hard to put into words what a tight knit, family of racing friends can be within a busy city - and together Maria and Charlotte helped to create that.
Thank you to everyone who voted in the TWC Awards this year. We're honoured that so many of you took the time to help us collect our female consensus of the cycling world in 2016, and look forward to sharing another year on two wheels with you all.