Road Trip to Paris: Women’s cycling challenge with a message
The peloton of amateur riders covered an average of 150km each day in order to reach the French capital in time to watch the professional women’s race La Course by Le Tour de France on Sunday morning.
Labelled #RoadtripParis, the initiative was the idea of professional Marianne Vos and a group of friends in order to promote women’s cycling and celebrate the first edition of La Course. This ride was part of the Women’s Cycling Week events organised by the UCI, between 20 and 27 July. The World and Olympic Champion greeted the women, aged 24 to over 50, at the start in Utrecht on Wednesday and rode with the peloton for the first hour.
On the last day, the 40 women were joined for the 170km from Peronne to Paris by UCI Vice-President and President of the UCI Women’s Commission Tracey Gaudry.
“When I heard about this ride I knew I wanted to join” said Tracey Gaudry. “The UCI’s work is as much about these amateur riders as about the top 1%. We want to grow cycling at all levels.”
The UCI Vice-President was impressed by the mutual respect and team spirit of the participants, who did not know each other before the adventure started: “I spoke to all the women in this group and I was impressed by the admiration they had for each other. It was an amazing and inspiring experience, and even more fun than I thought.”
Her sentiments are echoed by one of the participants Emma Chaplin, who came from Great Britain to join the adventure. She had never ridden such long distances on consecutive days: “It is wonderful that there are other women across the world who share this love for cycling,” she said. “It was a valuable and empowering experience and it made me realise I can do more than I thought I could ever do. And it would not have been possible without the support of the organisers and the other people in the group.”
Marion Pyrlik, a confirmed athlete, was one of two German women in the peloton: “There was an incredible team spirit during the four days which made the challenge much easier. It brought out the women’s strong spirit and leadership skills. The fact that there were no crashes shows that we were skilled riders!”
The riders kept a blog on Marianne Vos’ website.
The organisers were amazed by the incredible response they had from women all over the world wanting to join the adventure, and had to decline 300 hopeful participants.
Sunday is a rest day for the 40 women who will take on the role of spectator to cheer on the professional women competing in La Course.
Photo: Champagne celebration on arriving in Paris not far from the Eiffel Tower