USA's Women’s Prestige Cycling Series into 7th season
The 2010 Women’s Prestige Cycling Series gives women’s cycling the spotlight for a seventh consecutive season. The series encompasses four stage races in the United States.
The series highlights the women’s peloton at the Redlands Bicycle Classic (March 25-28) , SRAM Tour of the Gila (April 28-May 2) , Nature Valley Grand Prix (June 16-20) and the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic (July 20-25).
“The goal of the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series is to give the women a spotlight that they don’t have to share with the men,” said co-founder David LaPorte. “Way too often, when men and women compete at the same races, the men are the story and the women are a sidebar.”
LaPorte and Giana Roberge co-founded the Women’s Prestige Cycling Series in 2004. It is the result of the previous year’s Yoplait Women’s Cycling Summit held at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The resounding issue raised at the summit was that the National Racing Series (NRC) had too many events and the travel budgets of the women’s teams were stretched beyond their limits. According to LaPorte, the women’s teams wanted a focused series that had a manageable number of events.
“The women used to have the HP International Women’s Challenge, where they were the only story,” LaPorte said. “When that event ended, it left a vacuum that Giana and I filled it with the Series.”
“The series’ importance is defined by the [US-based] women’s cycling teams,” he added. “The series’ races have to have women’s racing as a priority. But, if they didn’t, the teams wouldn’t nominate them.”
LaPorte admitted that the series has had little growth in attracting professional women’s teams because nearly all of the top US teams have participated from the start. It has achieved its goal of bringing more media attention to women’s bike racing, however.
When asked why not a Men’s Prestige Cycling Series, LaPorte said, “I might turn that question around and ask why the pro men but not the pro women at the Tour of California and Tour of Missouri and at USPro Championships?”
This year’s series will begin at the Redlands Bicycle Classic held in March in California and move on to the SRAM Tour of the Gila held in New Mexico in April. The series heads to the Nature Valley Grand Prix held in Minnesota in June and conclude at the Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic in Oregon in July.
“Most women’s teams want several days of racing to justify the travel,” he added. “That’s why the series has mostly been stage races. The women nominate the races and …. If the promoters are amenable, we put it to a vote.”
Four separate competitions comprise the series including top overall individual, best young rider, best sprinter and top team. Special jerseys, provided by custom clothing manufacturer Champion System, will identify the leaders in the first three classifications.
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