by Molly Hurford
Yes, it’s been a big year for cyclocross, and women’s cyclocross in specific. You’ve got Marianne Vos taking the race at Worlds in a dominant way, and a women’s race at Worlds that was just as well-attended and arguably even more exciting than the men’s race. You’ve got Katie Compton still reigning supreme in the US, and Kaitie Antonneau coming up strong behind her. You’ve got great race videographers like Petitereines who focus solely on women’s cycling, most recently, French Nationals. You’ve got race promoters who care enough about women’s racing to finally offer equal payouts. And you’ve got great media guys like Jeff Bramhall who organized the Amateur Women of the Verge Series “You Got This” articles for us at Cyclocross Magazine.
We know there’s a ton of room for improvement. But let’s take a moment to celebrate how far women’s cycling has come in the recent past, while looking at all the ways we can continue to effectively grow the sport.
Enough from me. Let’s hear from some of the other women in the sport!
Christine Vardaros on the good and bad of 2011:
“One of the biggest ‘steps in the wrong direction’ was to think that adding a women’s event in some of the Superprestige races was a favor to women. They slotted us crazy early in the morning and offered almost no start money to any of the top women. They also made us park very far away at some of the venues to ensure that no spectators will find us. It is basically the Superprestige events where the women are treated poorly.”
Georgia Gould on what’s good, what’s bad and what to do about it:
“I think, as usual, the USGP leads the way in terms of seeing and recognizing the value in women’s racing. After years of offering equal payouts to the top three, they went even further this year and extended the equal payout 15-deep.
As far as a step in the wrong direction, that’s a little more difficult. Women’s races being added in Europe was a step in the right direction, as far as I am concerned. Clearly, some promoters resented being “forced” to have a women’s race and thus they scheduled the races at bad times, etc. but in the long run, this new rule will turn out to be a good thing. Eventually, it will just be normal to have a women’s race whenever there is a men’s race, and by then the promoters will hopefully have seen (and benefited from) the value in women’s racing.
I think we need to start thinking about developing the future of women’s racing by adding a junior women’s race at the world championships.”
Genevieve Whitson on payouts and Worlds:
“The best advancement for women this season in cyclocross was money, more and more women’s cyclocross races are getting either decent amounts for a win or equal amounts as men. This is progress!
Step in the wrong direction: National federations who have the talent and numbers to send up to seven women to Worlds and they are choosing to send two or three. This will make a very small race, with hardly the depth we could have and then people will say that women’s cyclocross is not that exciting or popular and concentrate on the men … again.”
Rhonda Morin, from a racer and coach’s perspective:
“As an amateur racer in Oregon, I appreciated the equal pay out for the regional Molly Cameron Grand Prix CX series this year. I was fortunate to capture the Women’s A category and it was truly sweet to receive an equal reward that my male counterpart received.
As a coach, I know my female clients also appreciate equal treatment as it pertains to pay out. I’ve been racing for 20+ years and this issue has plagued us that long.”
Amy Dombroski on Marianne Vos:
“She’s fast – she has everything: skills, speed, smarts, power, drive, motivation, mentality, strength, form, timing. She is an entirely complete bike racer. In addition to walking the walk, she can talk the talk in multiple languages. She’s friendly and sociable, humble, professional, a spokesperson for the sport and looks good in white. I feel for her though – if she were a guy she’d be set money-wise for life and then some. She’s unstoppable and World-Class in any event she starts but will still need a day job when she retires; it’s a shame.”
Kaitie Antonneau on women having a U23 race:
“ I definitely think there should be a junior women category for sure! It’s the only discipline that doesn’t have one. I think the first Cyclocross World Championships for Women was in 2000? Not really that long ago but it seems like women’s cyclocross has made a lot of progress since then, so hopefully some day there will be one. It would be neat if there was one for U23 too, but I like racing with the older women. Racing with them pushes me to be better.”
Have something to add? Let us hear it in the comments!