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Amgen TOC and Pro Challenge to add multi-day women's events; cyclists applaud efforts, ask for more

cyclists applaud efforts, ask for more

Alison Powers won the women's individual time trial of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California
Alison Powers won the women's individual time trial of the 2014 Amgen Tour of California
Doug Pensinger

News broke yesterday that the two biggest stage races in North America, the Amgen Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge, will hold multi-day women’s events in 2015.

In previous years, the Amgen Tour of California held single day events; a criterium from 2008 through 2010 and an invitation-only individual time trial in 2011,12 and 13. This year, organizers offered held two one-day events, a time trial in Folsom and a circuit race in downtown Sacramento.

The USA Pro Challenge is looking to add women’s events to the latter part of the week-long event, and retired cycling legend Connie Carpenter is said to be involved in the planning stages.

While no real details have been released yet, adding multiple women's events to high-profile races does sound like a step in the right direction of women’s racing.

Alison Powers, the USA national champion in road racing, criteriums and time trials, won the Amgen TOC time trial this year and would surely like to line up for a stage race in her home state as well.

"This is super exciting news!" Powers said. "I hope these new races happen. They will be a great addition to the women's calendar."

When these races happen, Powers said she and her team will be lining up for the they do at every race.

Kristy Scrymgeour, team owner and general manager of Specialized-Lululemon, also applauded organizers' efforts to include women but hopes for continued growth

"I think it's a great step for women's cycling to be able to add multi-day stage races to the Tour of Colorado and the TOC,"  Scrymgeour told Podium Café. "We've seen some very positive growth this year in women's cycling and it looks to be a bright future."

"Overall for women's cycling, I think it's important for all of us to continue pushing the topic of growth of women's cycling in positive ways and keep the conversation active for many years to come," Scrymgeour added. "Change can come quickly, but we need to keep that change sustainable by continuing to drive change even after we think we've done enough."

Pro-cyclist for Wiggle Honda, writer and Half the Road director,  Kathryn Bertine responded in a similar way, applauding the added races but asking for more.

"When it comes to equality, progress is usually a Catch-22. On one hand it is great ATOC & US Pro Challenge are adding more days, but "more" isn't equal," she said. "We need to applaud what they're doing but look very closely at what they're not doing. When I hear of a race organization adding more but not equal days for the women, I'm skeptical."

"Women have proven in recent races like the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta El Salvador that 10 day- to 3-week stage races are not a problem for our physicality," Bertine continued. "I am grateful for the additional days, but we're still being held back from our full potential and unless we talk about it, we'll continue to be limited to half of the men's distances, days and opportunities. This is a critical time for our movement, as doors have been opened to us from the Tour de France to the Tour of Utah, California, Colorado, etc... but if we settle for one day or even three or four, we aren't going to break the glass ceiling. We need to say "thank you" and "more please" at the same time. It's OK to push boundaries."