World and Olympic cycling champion Victoria Pendleton will act as the ambassador for a new series of women-only mass-participation cycle events to be held in Britain this year, which were officially launched in central London yesterday.
The Cycletta series will be made up of two 40km events held near Manchester and London this summer. They'll be run on closed roads and have been designed to encourage British women to learn about the fitness benefits of cycling in a safe environment.
Pendleton herself will take part in both rides. "I've been very lucky in my own career and had a lot of success," she said. "If I can encourage women of all ages to get involved in cycling it'll make all my achievements even more satisfying."
The first event takes place at North Tatton Park, near Manchester, on 26 June, with the second at Whipsnade Park, near London, on 11 September. Nick Rusling, CEO of organisers Participate, told BikeRadar that it's hoped 5,000-7,000 women will take to the roads.
"Cycletta is about the events, but it's also about 12 months of cycling," Rusling said. "We hope to educate female cyclists about the benefits of riding a bike, whether it's women who already ride to become faster or novice women just getting into it. We hope to expand the event to five events in the future."
The 40km distance is designed to give new riders a challenging but achievable introduction to cycling. More experienced riders will start at the front. Events will be held outside city centres in order to facilitate the closed courses, details of which will be released in coming weeks.
"If it's more relaxed and comfortable I think it's going to encourage more women to get into cycling." said Pendelton. "Everybody out there wants to encourage women onto bikes. It's a male dominated sport, but we're looking to change the balance."
Entry will cost £45 per event. Participants will be encouraged to form teams to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. The series is endorsed by British Cycling and their sponsors Sky, and it's also being supported by personal training company Bodyism, who'll provide tips on their website to help participants prepare for the events. For more information about the Cycletta series, visit www.cycletta.co.uk.