Racing Golden at Women's ATOC
Good racing-- it’s dynamic, fast, and high stakes. Women’s road racing is all of these things, and it is taking off in a big way. Enjoying an increase of the number and types of events, more sponsorships dollars and more competitive racing over the last two years, if there were any doubts as to the future of women’s racing, the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Race – Empowered With SRAM has certainly quelled them.
The best evidence of this is the passion and professionalism displayed by racers in the women’s peloton. We had a roundtable discussion with a number of SRAM-sponsored athletes after the first stage of the ATOC to get their take on the state of women’s racing and how the ATOC factors into it.
“As a Californian the ATOC is something I’ve always wanted to do. Ever since I saw the men’s race I knew I had to do it.” said Amber Gaffney (Twenty16 p/b SHO AIR). Velocio-SRAM rider Loren Rowney explained, “This race is quite special because I started racing internationally here in California with the Lululemon team. I said to a teammate back then that, ‘I hope that in the future we have our own weeklong stage race,’ and now we do with the ATOC.”
Seeing those dreams fulfilled hasn’t just been good for professional riders. It also gives fans of cycling more great racing to watch. Amber Gaffney (Twenty16 p/b SHO AIR) explained, “Our racing is totally different than men’s racing because of the shorter distances we ride. The men’s races are so long that they can’t go full gas for the whole race. With the races we do that are 70 miles long or less, we can go hard right from the start and it encourages lots of attacks and constant action. When people see the racing they understand it and get excited by it.”
As women’s racing continues to grow and evolve, racers, team managers and race organizers will need to evolve with it. “Building off the hype surrounding the men’s race is great, but we need more standalone events and to do more to use social media to get that exposure and tell our stories.” said Loren Rowney (Velocio-SRAM).
Lex Albrecht (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) highlighted how critical it is to get large scale, long term support for women’s racing, “It’s great working with SRAM as a sponsor of big events like this because they are so committed to women’s racing. It gives us the opportunity to grow as racers and to attract more sponsors and grow the sport. This eventually leads to getting more young women involved in cycling and providing opportunities for them to race as well.”
All Photos © Wil Matthews Photo