Sunday marked a breakthrough in UK women’s road racing as Bourne Wheelers hosted the first ever event for juniors women only on the open road. TWC asked British Cycling coach Huw Williams, why the event was so important.
Words and pictures, Huw Willams
Twelve months ago I was standing on top of the hill at the Cyclopark circuit in Kent, watching the cream of the South East and Eastern region’s youth girls going through their drills on the circuit below. With me was BCs then driver of all things youth racing orientated Tim Buckle. Our conversation was largely a diatribe against the lack of opportunities for girls when they matured from youth into juniors at age 16. The current system sees many girls at this age drop out of the sport as the only racing option available to them is going straight into the senior ranks while still on restricted [lower] gearing, often at the same time as experiencing open road conditions for the first time.
A year later, only around 20 of those riders have matured into the junior ranks… the boys in the same age bracket get to do a very high quality junior road series
This has proven quite a deterrent for a high number of riders. A typical scenario over the past few seasons sees massive fields of up to 80 youth women competing at races like the Hillingdon Youth Circuit Series race, yet come the junior National Road Race Championships a year later, only around 20 of those riders have matured into the junior ranks, competing for the jersey. The boys in the same age bracket get to do a very high quality junior road series.