Words by Maria David
The elegant surroundings of the Strangers Dining Room in the Palace of Westminster were the backdrop for the launch of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, and a landmark announcement for women’s cycle racing in the UK.
At the presentation hosted by Ruth Cadbury MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group, CEO of Energy Retail at OVO Energy and self-confessed bike enthusiast, Chris Houghton revealed that the prize money will be equal to the fund allocated for the men’s Tour of Britain.
For the 2018 event, the total prize fund will be 90,000 euros, the same as for the equivalent men’s race. This is more than double the prize fund in the Women’s Tour in 2017, which was 35,000 euros. The prize structure will be identical too, with stage winners, jersey leaders including the general classification leader (Green jersey) receiving the same sums as the men in the OVO Energy Tour of Britain. With prizes going down to 20th place and five jerseys to contest, this will be a key race for the world’s top women’s racing teams.
“Our announcement is a meaningful step towards gender parity in cycling, and we’re proud to play our part in supporting the development of professional women’s sport.” – Chris Houghton
This declaration, coming on the eve of International Women’s Day was met with overwhelming excitement and approval by the riders in attendance.
Lizzie Deignan (Boels Dolmans) 2016 winner and 2015 World Road Race Champion said, “The race is the pinnacle of women’s professional road cycling in the UK, and it’s an important step to offer equal prize money to the comparative men’s race. The Women’s Tour has a higher profile now, with it being on TV and with the prize money. I believe if you see it, you can dream it, and I can now look forward to getting out racing and inspiring my six-year-old niece.”