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With International Women’s Day just around the corner, we’re excited to celebrate all things women – and the last 12 months have been pretty eventful for those of us on two wheels.

14 of the Most Inspirational and Influential Women in Cycling

Sport England survey results have shown that an extra 100,000 people are riding regularly, compared to numbers in 2012, and that over half a million frequent riders are women.

We’ve revisited some of the biggest positive changes and events that helped make 2014 an amazing year for women's cycling...

UCI logo featured image

For women's racing to be successful it needs to receive coverage and funding, and the UCI Women's Road World Cup in 2014 received both.

Oh, and British rider Lizzie Armitstead won - an added bonus for us in Great Britain.

Every one of the nine rounds received TV coverage, with highlights and a race round up produced.

In addition, training video creators The Sufferfest came forward as sponsors for the series - at the time, founder of the company, David McQuillen said: "We are looking forward to our investment supporting the UCI Women World Cup and continuing to assist with the growth of women’s cycling."

Evans Cycles One for the Girls event

Retailers and brands are aware that women's cycling is growing - and many are clearly keen to offer their support. Over the past year we've seen events run by Trek Bikes , plus One for the Girls nights at Evans Cycles stores, who also offer dedicated women's only maintenance classes.

In the most recent addition, Halfords have announced a new commitment to women's cycling with maintenance nights in their stores and a partnership with British Cycling's Breeze.

No doubt there will be more events in 2015 and they show a desire from retailers and brands to support the growing number of women on bikes.

Girorosa 2014

High profile events for women are what we asked for - and that's exactly what we got!

The 2014 Women's Tour spanned May 7 - May 11, it drew high profile riders, including Marianne Vos, as well as huge crowds who lined the barriers.

The Tour will be back for 2015 - and riders are already stating aims to target the event.

As well as The Women's Tour, we enjoyed La Course, a one day women's crit at the end of the Tour de France which came about with thanks to dedication from 'La Tour Entier' - a group made up of Emma Pooley, Kathryn Bertine, Mariane Vos and Chrissie Wellington.

The race, sponsored by Specialized women, will also be repeated this year, and winner Vos said of the event: "the launch of this race is a revolutionary development in our sport."

Tahnee Rachael Manon crop

This year British Cycling sent 9 women to race across the Downhill and Cross Country categories at the UCI World Champs.

We had female representatives in nearly all categories and levels in each discipline, save for junior women. In the Downhill competition, Manon Carpenter took victory - making her World Champion and World Cup Champion in the same year.

She was followed by Rachel Atherton and Tahnee Seeagrave, for a Brit 1,2,3 on the podium.

featuredimagewelsh

This news made us want to move to Wales!

Ok, so male cyclist Geraint Thomas took the win in the end, but MTB World Champ, Manon Carpenter, Track and Road cyclist, Elinor Barker and para cyclist Rachel James all gained a place on the shortlist.

This showed that women in cycling are catching eyes in Wales, and hopefully across the rest of the country, too.

Competitors - Action

Last September, Rachel Atherton played the role of 'Fox' in the first ever female Red Bull Fox Hunt MTB event.

In a flip of the tables, the 'hunters' set off first, and Foxy Atherton headed after them.

Over 100 women (117) took part, and it looks like there will be the chance to ride again - Rachel said after the event: "This is the first of many! It’s definitely on the cards for the next few years, and it will grow, with more people entering and a bigger, festival atmosphere."

Tour of Cambridgeshire Gran Fondo and Chrono

This closed roads Gran Fondo will host 10,000 riders in June, and the 132km race and 28km time trial are exciting enough in themselves.

Add to this that both winning male and female will haul in £1,500 and you've got yourself two triumphs in one.

There are still places to ride the Gran Fondo - which costs £56 - you can enter here.

this girl can

In November 2014, Sport England unveiled their campaign 'This Girl Can' - aimed at encouraging more women to get active.

Their research showed that many women aged 14-40 wanted to do more exercise, but felt concerned about the way they would be perceived.

The campaign aims to show that ordinary women can take part in sport, and most importantly, enjoy every minute of it. The Lottery funded project featured TV ads, billboards and more - and received great feedback on Twitter.

go ride girls only race british cycling ed

Young girls soon become young women and and Go-Ride Racing, British Cycling's junior programme, are showing their support this year by supporting girls only races.

Go-Ride are offering cycling clubs prize fund incentives to hold races just for girls, and Laura Trott was in support of the initiative, saying: "Go-Ride Racing events hosted by clubs provide young girls with the perfect environment to don their first race bib, have fun and test their race skills."

Women are also receiving more support, for example, from Scottish Cycling, who are offering free road racing skills workshops, thanks in part to a 35% increase in Scottish women taking part in cycling events.

Cycletta

Macmillan Cycletta added more routes for their 2015 series in answer to demand for more distances.

Initially, tougher events were called for, and they added 150km rides to their 7 event line up. However, when more 20km rides were requested, to encourage women new to cycling to take part, this request was granted also.

The first 42km ride takes place in June, with the Wiggle Dragon Ride, and there will be sportives across the country until September - see the full line up here.

Breeze Rides, free guided rides for women organised by British Cycling, also added new challenge routes of 50 and 100km in 2014.

Over the year, there were 5,000 Breeze bike rides, attended by 17,500 women and children.

HOY Vulpine

Women make up a smaller proportion of the cycling population and clothing brands rarely offer an equal number of options for women as they do men.

When Sir Chris Hoy and Vulpine joined together to create their HOY Vulpine range, however, they wanted to be different. Every item is available in male and female cut, though styling is very similar.

Sir Chris himself told us: "We don’t want to patronise women and say you should be wearing pink shirts, pink shorts and fluffy things. It is about making cycling appeal to everyone, why should it be different? Obviously there are anatomical differences in the bib shorts and different cuts to make sure it fits the shape [of a woman] but it is more about making it appealing to everybody."

Sarah Storey featured hour record

'The Hour' has dominated headlines since the UCI reverted their rules to allow modern equipment, with numerous male cyclists having a pop at the longest distance in a velodrome over one hour.

The current women's record stands at Leontien Van Moorsel’s 46km, set in 2003. On Saturday 28 February, Dame Sarah Storey made a bold step and attempted to break it.

She was unsuccessful, but did take the British Hour Record, the Master Hour Record and set the new C5 para standard. Not only that, but in her attempt, we hope Dame Sarah has opened the gates for further attacks.

It's been an amazing year! Here are 14 of the women who helped make it happen...