Chat with the pros and learn how you can support women’s cycling in a new Zwift group ride by The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA).
The Cyclists’ Alliance Community Ride is held on Mondays at 8 pm CET / 7 pm BST/ 2 pm EDT /11 am PDT. The pace is 2-2.5 w/kg, and each week will feature a different guest from the world of professional women’s cycling. TCA is a professional organization that provides support to female cyclists during and after their careers.
The first featured guest on May 18 was Audrey Cordon-Ragot (Trek–Segafredo), a four-time French National Time Trial Champion. Future guest athletes include Ellen Van Dijk (Trek–Segafredo), Christine Majerus (Boels–Dolmans), and Vita Heine (Hitec Products–Birk Sport).
Guest riders (left to right) Audrey Cordon-Ragot, Ellen Van Dijk, and Christine Majerus
“It will be a really interesting opportunity to connect with their fanbase and show who they are and their personality a bit more,” says Lexi Brown, a TCA board member.
Professionals in women’s cycling can be particularly interesting to talk to, Brown says. Because they often earn low salaries as athletes, even at the highest level, many of them work other jobs. When they speak about their lives, fans can relate to them and learn about more than just cycling.
TCA Treasurer Roos Hoogeboom, a pro cyclist herself with Biehler Krush Pro Cycling, is the primary leader of the rides. This gives guest riders a chance to focus on chatting with the group. You can hear about the challenges they face, some of their favorite memories of epic battles out on the road, and what their everyday lives are like.
Remember, it’s not a race!
“It’s a social ride,” says Iris Slappendel, TCA’s executive director. “And the Cyclists’ Alliance is for women, but guys can join the ride, too!”
Men actually make up about half of TCA’s supporter membership. While the Cyclists’ Alliance is for women, men also can be a part of the movement.
As vice director Rhian Ravenscroft explains, “It’s for supporters of women’s cycling, not just for women who cycle.”
TCA board members (left to right) Lexi Brown, Roos Hoogeboom (Treasurer), Iris Slappendel (Executive Director), Rhian Ravenscroft (Vice Director)
About The Cyclists’ Alliance
The Cyclists’ Alliance helps female riders access resources like legal support, post-career support, nutritionists, mental coaches, concussion tests, and more. They also advocate on the riders’ behalf for better working conditions and visibility for women’s cycling.
Any woman cyclist racing for a UCI women’s team can be a member rider of The Cyclists Alliance, along with young women cyclists in the Elite category.
Those who don’t fit those requirements still can join with a supporter membership. TCA normally offers a yearly in-person group ride where these supporters can ride with pro members, but that hasn’t been possible this year. Supporters and pros alike have been riding indoors more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many in-person group ride events have been put on hold.
Brown, a frequent Zwifter, says Zwift was a natural fit to offer an alternative ride. Initiatives like the Canyon//SRAM Zwift Academy show their support for women’s cycling.
“I think it’s quite a nice way both for pro riders to give back to those who are supporting their union, and also for our supporters to chat with them directly and learn a bit more about the challenges and opportunities they have in the professional female cycling world," Brown says.
Virtual races like the recent Zwift Tour for All have offered equal competition and coverage for men and women. Ravenscroft says this environment lets people see how powerful and impressive female athletes really are.
“Women’s sport isn’t secondary to men’s sport,” she says. “It’s a standalone sport with standalone phenomenal athletes in their own right.”
Slappendel points out that eRacing is new, “so like other newer sports, it has an opportunity to start on equal footing.” Meanwhile, road racing comes with a long history of convention and tradition.
But there has been progress.
In early May, the UCI announced plans for a women’s Paris-Roubaix in October 2020. For the first time, women will race their own version of this famous men’s Classic.
“I think it’s great news that they announced Paris-Roubaix,” Ravenscroft says, “but true success will only flow from it if they give it equal parity and equal treatment with the men’s racing – and coverage.”
What can everyday riders do to support women’s cycling?
“Support those brands that support and engage with women’s cycling,” she suggests. “Make a call for broadcasters to make sure it’s being covered, and support those venues and other platforms which provide coverage.”
Slappendel encourages people to follow female riders and women’s teams on social media. Join their Zwift rides and get to know them, and follow coverage of their races when you can.
“And join the TCA,” she adds.
To learn more about The Cyclists’ Alliance, visit www.cyclistsalliance.org