After much anticipation – they’re finally here! The Total Women’s Cycling Awards for 2016 will take place at the Cycle Show in Birmingham’s NEC Centre on Friday September 23.
The winners will be 100 per cent reader voted – and you need to submit your votes by Monday 12 September for the chance to see your nomination pick up a gong on the night.
The Women’s Cycling Initiative of the year will go to a company, group, organisation or individual who has shown dedication to growing women’s cycling, raising a voice for female cyclists, or celebrating existing riders.
There are many possible candidates here – and of course you can use the other box to vote for someone completely different. Here are the shortlisters we’ve chosen, and why we think they’re special…
British Cycling launched the Breeze campaign back in 2013, with the aim of getting one million more women cycling. To do so, they invested in training Breeze leaders all over the country, who organise rides for women who want to progress in an all female environment.
This year, British Cycling also announced the Breeze squad, a group of young development riders who would fly the flag for the organisation, also getting the chance to race in top level pelotons as they launch their careers.
Racing Chance Foundation
The Racing Chance Foundation is a charitable incorporated organisation, registered with the Charity Commission. Their aim is to grow and support women’s cycling, with a focus on nurturing up and coming athletes into racing.
Racing Chance organise training sessions and offer coaching – often for beginners looking to take their first steps in group racing. They also support athletes, right through to elite level, with funding to help them achieve their goals.
The Racing Chance training days, largely held around the midlands, have been incredible successful in helping women to feel confident entering their first races, and the format has been adopted elsewhere in the country too.
Strongher arrived in October last year, backed by a star studded line up including Marianne Vos and Manon Carpenter. Their mission statement was to get more women riding. Their toolkit included a wide array of methods – the first of which was an app which women could use to organise group rides.
Since then, they’ve brought out Stronger kit, the ‘Seal of Approval’ for bike shops that meet female friendly standards, organised a host of rides and events, as well providing a selection of written content on their website.
Sarah Connolly, ProWomensCycling.com, @_pigeons_
Admittedly, more a media outlet than an initiative – but Sarah Connolly has set out to promote pro women’s racing, and she’s done an excellent job.
Writing and podcasting at prowomenscycling.com, and tweeting from @, Connolly knows the pro peloton inside-out and can always be counted on to have first hand knowledge, as well as live updates the majority of the time (if not, she can tell you who does!)
Connolly has been a paid contributor on TWC before, too – but being a freelancer in women’s cycling isn’t always easy, and she’s got a patreon site where individuals can fund her work. Even some of the seemingly ‘biggest’ sites in cycling don’t have a great budget for covering women’s racing, largely because advertisers still need convincing that the audience is large enough. It’s people like Connolly that help prove that the audience is there, and waiting for more.
This Girl Can
This Girl Can, funded by Sport England, bowled us over at the dawn of 2015 with their incredible TV adverts which showed women of all shapes and sizes working. Some were jiggly, others sweaty, some doing sit-ups surrounded by children.
The images were accompanied by semi light hearted, but overall empowering slogans such as “I swim because I love my body. Not becasue I hate it”, “sweating like a pig, felling like a fox”, and “I jiggle, therefore I am.”
The idea came after research showed that around 75 per cent of women wanted to do more exercise, but many were put off by feeling self conscious. The campaign appears to have been a success too – figures published by Sport England, show that the number of women playing sport regularly jumped by 261,200 to 7.12 million between 2015 and 2016.
London Women’s Racing
London Women Racing smashed its way onto the scene in spring this year. Launching with a selection of incredibly well attended training days, the organisation headed up by Dulwich Paragonette Beth Hodge offered a calendar of races and events to give women a clear pathway.
The race series (which yours truly took part in, even getting a podium place in the spring league, somehow?!) meant that women in the South were all attending the same events, as opposed to scattering to various venues, each with limited entries.
As well as providing a stage for friendly rivalry, the league also united women in a shared goal of increasing participation, whilst expert organisation meant that the overall package looked sleek, marketing was spot on – and the prizes were amazeballs!
The gap between pro men’s and women’s wages is huge, at most races. But this year we’ve seen a number of events – the Tour de Yorkshire and the Ride London Classique are two major examples – match or surpass the men’s payment with their women’s races.
As well as increasing their prize pot, RideLondon also decided to encourage other races to do the same by launching their
Admittedly, it only really took them a hashtag – but they also put their money where their mouths were with their own cash allocations, and we applaud them for working to get others to do the same.
Love an initiative we’ve not mentioned? Write it in the box!