Lucy Ritchie, from Inverurie, takes part in the grueling challenge of raising awareness about women’s professional cycling and the inequalities that exist in the sport.
This year, the 10 riders – spread across the UK, the Netherlands, the US and Australia – will first complete a four-day nonstop team relay of 3,470km which will start at the same time as the Tour. of France.
The 10 runners will then run “Everest” 8848 meters in a single day. The cumulative figures represent the total distance and altitude that the professional peloton will cover on 21 stages of this year’s Tour de France.
Lucy, 45, who works as Business Opportunities Manager at Shell, said: “We still haven’t achieved gender equality in cycling. Christian Prudhomme, the director of the Tour de France, has said there will be a women’s Tour de France in 2022, but this is only an event.
“It’s the height of professional cycling races, but there are plenty of other events that don’t yet have a female equivalent.
“It’s not just about racing. Most professional cyclists are required to have full-time jobs and compete in sport, whereas once male cyclists are professional their pay covers it all.
“It’s things like that that I think we’re a long way off.”
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Lucy wants to tackle the misconception that women’s cycling is boring to watch.
She added: “There is a perception that the women’s race is not exciting and people don’t want to watch it. Last year it was phenomenal to see the hype around the World Cup and the number of people watching it.
“The women’s races this year have been exceptionally exciting and many male commentators have even said that the women’s races have been brilliant. It’s just not visible because it’s not on TV.
“How can we inspire the next generation if they don’t see what they should be striving for? It’s bigger than the Tour de France for me.
“Even at the local level when I am competing I have to race against all the women who want to race because there is never enough of them to deserve to place age groups or individual categories. I have to race against 20 year olds, which is unfair.
Due to social distancing restrictions, the InternationElles will complete the relay section of the challenge from their homes on static bikes, starting with crossing the line in Nice for the first stage of the Tour on Saturday August 29. They aim to finish Wednesday, September 2.
They will then all tackle the “Everest” challenge at the same time on Friday September 4 after a day of rest.
The five UK-based runners will gather at a base in South Wales to complete the relay challenge, before climbing the Rhondda Valley’s second category climb 26 times, The Bwlch, on Friday. Each ascent represents 339m of vertical drop with an average slope of 5%.
Lucy added: “We always said we would only ride if it was safe, and about a month ago it became clear that realistically it was not safe for us to do so because that there was so much uncertainty.
“And out of respect for the French towns and villages we passed through, we didn’t think it was the right thing to do.
“But we didn’t want to waste our intense training and there was still work to be done, so our Plan B was the best thing to do.”
You can join the InternationElles in their 3470km virtual non-stop relay starting Saturday by visiting www.skoda.co.uk/thisisourtime