The Sufferfest Sponsors UCI Women’s World Cup & Introduces ‘The Suffer Prize’

INTRODUCTION OF ‘THE SUFFER PRIZE’ TELLS STORIES
OF EPIC SUFFERING IN EACH ROUND OF WORLD CUP
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is pleased to announce that The Sufferfest will be the Official Sponsor of the UCI Women’s Road World Cup in 2015.

A leading producer of indoor training videos, The Sufferfest has been a sponsor of the UCI since 2010 and of the UCI Women Road World Cup since 2014. It produces highly effective and engaging training videos using footage of professional races, including UCI events.

This year, the UCI and The Sufferfest will step up their collaboration by introducing a unique, new award for the UCI Women’s Road World Cup. At the end of each round of the World Cup, The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be awarded to the rider who demonstrated particular determination, courage and suffering to help a teammate, to animate the race or simply to get to the finish line against the odds.

The judging panel will be made up of the TV production team, the Chief Commissaire, the Race Director and the UCI. The concept was extremely well received by riders and team representatives at the UCI Women’s Teams seminar in early March.

“This award is not necessarily about winning the race, but about the Sufferlandrian values of pushing yourself beyond what you thought yourself capable of,” explained The Sufferfest’s Chief Suffering Officer, David McQuillen. He added: “Women’s professional racing is incredibly difficult and tells inspiring stories of effort, sacrifice and resilience. We want to share these stories and The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest is our way of showing how outstanding these athletes are.”

At the end of the season, The Sufferlandrian community will have the chance to vote for the Epic Moment of Suffering experienced by one of the winners of the Suffer Prize. The final winner will receive a $1,000 USD cash prize.

UCI President Brian Cookson commented: “The UCI Women’s Road World Cup is a magnificent showcase for women’s cycling, and I am delighted that The Sufferfest will again be supporting the series in 2015 with this incredibly unique prize. This is a demonstration of their esteem for this exciting and increasingly popular discipline.”

UCI Vice-President, Tracey Gaudry also welcomed the news: “As a former professional cyclist I have witnessed many inspiring demonstrations of courage and gritty determination within the professional women’s peloton. I am delighted that, together with The Sufferfest, we will be able to highlight some of these amazing stories.”

Winners of The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest will be communicated via social media (@UCIWomenCycling & @TheSufferfest). In addition, news and highlights of the races – including an interview with The Suffer Prize presented by The Sufferfest winner – will also be available on the UCI YouTube channel (www.tv.uci.ch) throughout the season.

As the UCI Official Sponsor of the 2015 Women Road World Cup, the Sufferfest will enjoy visibility throughout the season, having kicked off with the Boels Rental Ronde van Drenthe in Holland. The winner of The Suffer Prize on that occasion was Orica-AIS rider Lizzie Williams (pictured above), who crashed twice, chased back to the pack twice and then broke her rear derailleur and had to give up, having no further spare bike.

This initiative complements other activities resulting from the collaboration between the UCI and The Sufferfest. For example, registrations are now being received for the first week-long training camp open to the public at the UCI headquarters in Switzerland in June.

 

More information is available on The Sufferfest website. 

LIZZIE WILLIAMS OF ORICA-AIS

WINNER OF THE FIRST
SUFFER PRIZE PRESENTED BY THE SUFFERFEST
Williams crashed twice and had twomechanicals. She twice battled her way back from the caravan to the bunch before ultimately withdrawing because she was out of bikes to ride. Not only that, after she completed her interview for The Suffer Prize, she discovered that her team had left without her and shewas forced to find her own way home.”It was probably the worst day on the bike that I’ve ever had, but you have to take the good with the bad in this sport. I had a bad day and hopefully tomorrow will be sunshine and no crashes. You’ve got to get back. You can’t give up. If you’re going to give up, you might as well not be here. I’ve come all the way from Australia. I’m not going to give up just because I have a tumble. I got to the front and hit the cobbles tenth wheel, feeling really positive, and 500 metres later myderallieur broke off and snapped into my back wheel. That was the end of my day. I had no bikes left. I had two bikes and they were both broken.” 

 

Women’s Cycling – A Grassroots’ Perspective

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

 

The Women’s Tour hits Britain for the first time this week, with some of the best international female riders racing for the first time in the UK since the 2012 Olympic Games.

There has been a large amount of media coverage in relation to this and for good reason.

However, anybody who believes that women’s domestic cycling has made a huge move forwards in the UK is sadly mistaken.  Yes, there is a Women’s Tour, which offers parity on prize money and conditions with that of the Tour of Britain, but the reality is that, for the moment at least, any woman who races on the UK domestic scene and is not part of the Great Britain performance programme (which is a track-based programme), is highly unlikely to get the opportunity to ride in the likes of the Women’s Tour and La Course by the TDF.

Ultimately, women’s cycling in the UK is still a side show, an afterthought.  Despite Brian Cookson setting up a women’s commission at the UCI, there is no such thing within the UK.  Whilst some of the greatest female cyclists are arriving in the UK to take part in the inaugural Women’s Tour, the women who race on the domestic scene will quite often find themselves being put with the novice fourth category men, which is an experience that is unlikely to entice the women to come back the following week!  There are a few committed people in the cycling scene who disproportionately hard to be inclusive towards women’s participation, however, these are few and far between, and lack key support.

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Nobody can deny that the Breeze programme has been a success in so far as it encourages more women to ride bikes.  But the Breeze programme is based on participation, not competition, and there is no real pathway to bridge between the two. The strategy as far as competition is concerned is practically non-existent, despite the numbers that British Cycling quote in relation to the increase in licences.  Ultimately, women’s competitive cycling in the UK on the domestic scene is an amateur sport, which means that it is run by volunteers. There is no money for “competition” because despite what you read (which can seem like propaganda quite honestly), cycling is run by men ergo the sport will always be seen from a male perspective.

So, what is the way forward?

Well, it is true, there has been progress in the last 12 months, with many more road racing opportunities for women, but these forward-thinking organisers need our help and support. Domestic events are all run by volunteers and everybody who wants to race (whether they are male or female) has to understand that it costs money to put a race on – if a race can’t at a minimum break even, then why should an organiser make a loss?

One problem with the circuit races that seem to be prolific in the UK for women is that they cost very little to run – there is a levy per entry (approximately £4 per rider) and then you have the hire of the circuit (usually between £50 and £150 depending on how long you need the circuit for) and the expenses of the commissaires for attending (usually two at closed circuit) and the first aider, but nothing much besides.  This means that you can have five riders in an event and potentially break even.

Road racing, on the other hand, can be expensive – not only do you have the levy per rider, but you then also have first aid, National Escort Group (motorbike marshals), petrol money for all officials who use their cars, for the lead car and neutral service (the cost of which increases the longer the race), as well as the hire of the headquarters.  Before you know it, the cost of putting on an event is at £350 and that’s before you add in prize money.  So that means that you need at least 25 to 30 riders before you even start to break even.

Women's Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

Women’s Road Series | Cheshire Classic ©CyclingShorts / www.chrismaher.co.uk

So please, ladies, if you want to have road races in your region, please give the organisers the support they deserve and enter in advance as often as you can afford to and don’t rely on the ability to turn up and enter on the day (the latter will hopefully become more difficult as racing gets more popular and races fill up in advance).  There have been far too many races this season that have been cancelled or nearly cancelled due to lack of rider entries – you need to take some responsibility and enter in advance – our sport is run by volunteers who cannot afford to make a loss, so please enter in good time!

My final point reverts back to the fact that competitive cycling is run, for the most part, by men.  Until such time that women start to volunteer in larger numbers, whether that be as race officials or race organisers, and start to make their voices heard by taking their place on the Regional British Cycling Boards, there will be no significant changes.  I appreciate that for most people, offering to organise a race or becoming an official can be a daunting task, and I will have more news in the coming weeks for people who want to do just that.

Ultimately, women’s cycling is becoming more popular, we just need to ensure that it continues to grow in the correct way on a domestic level.

 

 

 

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