THE WOMEN WHO MADE THE TOUR DOWN UNDER
By Emily Collins
Unarguably the best cycling event of summer – the Tour Down Under. Sadly gone for another year, but what a fantastic time it was. Countless miles were ridden, thrilling racing was viewed, many new friendships were formed and of course many a dance move was pulled.
Over the years, this event has developed into something very special and is certainly no longer just about the pro’s or the racing. The general atmosphere throughout the buzzing city is incredible as bunches of keen cyclists of all shapes, sizes and abilities line the streets to ride Adelaide’s best roads as a unit to take it all in.
This year – to fire that atmosphere, we did things a little differently and collaborated with Black Sheep Cycling to form the ‘Chateau’ – not just an event pop-up, but in our minds, the go-to place of the week; to ride, sit back and consume great Maillot Jaune coffee, kick on to watch the race over a beer with new mates of the peloton and enjoy a party or three. The Chateau provided something special and certainly went above and beyond expectations.
What really stood out to us throughout the week was the overwhelming number of women out rocking the streets of Adelaide, oozing confidence on bikes and bringing the social to our week of cycling. Thank you to all the Specialized women and women we met in Adelaide – from the professionals who put on a fantastic display of aggressive, exciting racing, to the Wheel Women who kicked off our week with a bang!
Here, we look back at how the women of Specialized contributed to our special week.
Images by Daniel Redwood
The WHEEL WOMEN ride
We kick started the week exceptionally, setting out from the Chateau with over 100 women for the Wheel Women ride.
The Wheel Women cycling group was created in 2012 by Tina McCarthy in a bid to encourage more women to get out on bikes and help overcome those initial feelings of hesitation when starting out. Tina has since, created something incredible and over the years has helped countless women overcome these fears and take up cycling.
We have proudly supported Wheel Women since the beginning and hope to continue to work with them as they carry forward their great movement.
The ride was about women of all levels getting out there for a cruisy social spin to share their experiences and love for women’s cycling. This was a huge success as we had the entire Specialized women’s racing team in attendance, as well as multiple women who had barely ridden a bike and all levels in between.
To have over 100 women ride together and support each other throughout was a unique experience to be part of. Thank you Wheel Women!
SPECIALIZED WOMEN’S racing team
A big highlight of our week was seeing the Specialized Women’s team take it to the World Tour professionals during the Tour, to then have them join us at the Chateau for some post-race chill time and chat. These girls rocked and made us feel incredibly honoured to be supporting them and their efforts.
The Women’s Tour was the first of it all, with the challenging four stage event starting Thursday the 11th of January.
For 2018, the race was upgraded to 2.1 UCI status, just one level below World Tour. This meant the field was packed with the World’s best female pro teams and a string of incredible talent.
The Specialized Women’s racing team certainly showed no fear out there and shone from day 1 to 4. They raced aggressive, smart and professionally and we watched on proudly.
Their efforts were well recognised in the results with Kate Mcilroy finishing 8th in the General Classification, as well as Taryn Heather and Sharlotte Lucas in the top 20. This bumped the team into a creditable 3rd place in the team’s General Classification, ahead of multiple leading World tour pro teams.
What impresses us is that most of these girls continue to hold and work full-time jobs, as well as commit to and prepare for training and the team. So, to see them show up to this race well prepared, line up against a field of full-time athletes and give them a great run for their money was very inspiring.
For us, it wasn’t only their results but their positive attitudes, smiling faces, willingness to come hang out at the Chateau and take part in the Wheel Women’s ride that impressed us most.
All the best to these ladies for the 2018 season. We can’t wait to see what they can do!
BIG PRIZE MONEY BOOST for women
To cap a fantastic week for women’s cycling, it was announced last weekend that the prize pool for the 2018 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under would be equalled to that of the men’s – stepping from a total of $15,000 to over $100,000.
This support has stemmed from the South Australian Government and they have since pledged to continue to pay equal prize money for future events.
“The broken bones don’t hurt any less because you’re a woman. You have to do just as much work as the men to become a top rider, so we think it’s high time in 2018 that women get paid the same as men do”, said by SA Sports Minister Leon Bignell.
This is certainly a breakthrough for women’s racing and in our opinion, so very well deserved. The significant disparity between male and female professionals in earnings is huge and we cannot wait to see some real change begin to take place. This is certainly a step in the right direction!
Kudos to you South Australia.
Overall – a huge week for women in cycling. Thank you to you all for making it a trip to remember. Bring on 2019!
Emily is a former kiwi road racer based abroad in Spain. She is no longer competing, but still passionate about all things cycling and is currently undertaking a 10 week internship with our Marketing team.