Women's cycling gets a big boost from stars

Vos and Carpenter among ambassadors for new platform StrongHer

Top pro cyclists including Marianne Vos, Manon Carpenter and Alex Dowsett have lent their support to StrongHer, an ambitious new platform that aims to get more women on bikes, across all levels and disciplines of the sport.

Three-time world road race champion Marianne Vos said getting more women on bikes is more important to her than winning medals. Former world hour record holder Alex Dowsett also offered the support of the pro men's peloton for more women's events at stage races.

StrongHer will provide an online community with ambassadors called 'Sheroes' offering advice and encouragement on anything from kit to ride destinations, as well as organising events.

During the launch at London cycle cafe Look Mum, No Hands, Vos said: "StrongHer is something we've been working on for about one and a half years, we wanted to create events, to see what would work and to create a platform to build StrongHer, which is why we made [hashtag campaign] Take the Stage."

Vos added that its backers plan to offer training courses, blogs and an app to connect everyone involved. The aim us to enable users to organise rides, so that "if you want to join a ride with a girl who lives two blocks further you can. That's going to connect more and more people around you."

She added: "It's very interesting to see the growth of women's cycling and to see more and more women on bikes, finding out how great it is to cycle around. We all know how fantastic it is but as a pro you're in a small world and now you can share your passion and for me that's even more important than winning races or winning medals."

Marianne vos in cyclocross action:
Marianne vos in cyclocross action:
Seven-time World Cyclocross Champ Marianne Vos in action (credit: Getty)

Support from all disciplines

So who are these Sheroes? Well they include riders from all disciplines, including fixed gear rider Juliette Elliott, downhill mountain bike champion Manon Carpenter, and road racers Marijn de Vries and Molly Van Houweling.

Among events already organised, Marijn de Vries is leading a five-day trip to Girona, Spain next February, while a London-Paris ride in July will meet the women's La Course race. Manon Carpenter also hinted at organising downhill mountain bike events for beginners and younger riders.

Carpenter said: "My mum has recently got into biking a bit more – mountain biking – she's done it through women's group rides. Sometimes when you're starting out it's a bit intimidating going out with more experienced riders because you'll make all these mistakes. Maybe it's a bit more friendly to do it in a women's environment."

Female mountain biker in the alps:
Female mountain biker in the alps:
Female mountain biker in the Alps (credit: Getty)

Men's support

British time trial champion Alex Dowsett, a surprise addition at the event, voiced his support for StrongHer, particularly women's cycling at pro level.  "I think I speak on behalf of a large part of the men's peloton who don't see why women's cycling shouldn't be equal to the men's." he said. "Personally I have found it quite frustrating. It is easy for organisers to put on a women's event beside the men's event, and I don't see why that can't happen across stage races.

"That's why when I heard about StrongHer... I'm in full support."

Road racing cyclist Marit Huisman, who coordinated the event, said: "We want to give you the confidence, we want to share our confidence, whether it is on BMX or mountain bike, StrongHer is a stage for women."

"Basically we want to share our passion for cycling around the world."

For more info on the new StrongHer women's fitness community head to www.strongher.cc.

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