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This International Women's Day, I wanted to highlight the women in cycling I find to be remarkable. They have influenced the sport in such a manner that they have become an icon for women everywhere, whether it be from what they achieved in races or what they moved on to do afterwards.
Marion is a French, former cyclist who was born on the 17th August 1991. In 2012, she won the French National Championships - Women's Road Race title. She then moved on to become a race director of the Tour de France Femmes, which made her the first woman to ever commentate on the Tour de France on French Télévisions! This helped her to bring the Women's Tour de France into the light and it has now become as popular as the Men's. Given that the Tour de France is arguably the most renowned race, having the Women's equivalent become just as respected is a phenomenal achievement for women.
A quote from Marion about her new position:
‘The Tour de France avec Zwift is the biggest cycling race in the world, so to have an equivalent for women was a dream for all the women’s peloton, most of all myself. It gives me great pride, as a former rider and former wearer of the tricolour jersey, to welcome the biggest race in the world to my country.’
Marianne Vos - 'The Cannibal'
As I am quite new to the cycling world, I was relying heavily on research for this list. But as I kept reading, one name kept cropping up again and again. And that was Marianne Vos. She has ruled the Women's Peloton for years, and doesn't really need an introduction. However, for those like me who are quite new, she is a Dutch cyclist who was born on the 13th May 1987.
'She has almost 300 victories in total, including seven World Cyclocross Championships, three World Road Race Championships, two World Championships titles on the track and Olympic gold medals on the track at Beijing 2008 and in the road race at London 2012.' - Cyclist Magazine
She is an inspiration to women, dominating the leader boards everywhere she goes and proving that anything is possible.
Nicole Denise Cooke - MBE
Nicole, born 13th April 1983, had to go on the list for me as I had watched her achieve her gold medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It was the first Olympics I was old enough to remember and seeing her bring a medal home for Team GB was inspirational. However, it was the first time a British woman had won a Gold Olympic Medal in any cycling discipline! I didn't know it was that special at the time, but that is an incredible achievement that will go down in British Cycling history.
'As she soon found out, she had to compete against more than just her competitors and is widely commended for having campaigned for recognition and equality for female athletes, and spoken out against doping in sport.' - Nicole Cooke Official Website
Not only is she a personal favourite, she has put herself out there to help raise awareness for women's equality in the sport. Which makes her a perfect match for this list on International Women's Day.
Cherie, born on the 22nd May 1971, is such an inspiration to women. She had a very successful cycling career as a pro-rider, and then chose to move towards managing and directing instead. She became one of the first women to become a Female sports Director in Britain, in 2011. A couple years later she then became a club owner. However, her largest title came in 2020 when she was appointed as the Sports Director for Israel's Start-Up Nation. This made her the first woman to hold this position at a World Tour level.
One of my favourite quotes I found from Cherie was:
'Wouldn’t it be nice for all women to have similar opportunities in a world based on equality and values? Where people are simply judged and rewarded in terms of their ability to undertake a role'
The Backstedt Sisters, Elynor and Zoe
These sisters are a force to be reckoned with. These young women are at the beginning of their career, but have already achieved so much. They will be an inspiration to young girls in cycling and proving that you can achieve anything.
Elynor, the older of the two, was born on the 6th December 2001. She currently rides for UCI Women's World Team Trek - Segafredo. In 2018 and 2019 at the UCI Road World Championships, she won a bronze medal in the Women's Junior Time Trial Event.
Zoe, the younger sister, was born on the 24th September 2004. She currently rides for UCI Women's World Tour Team EF Education–Tibco–SVB. At the same event as her sister, she took silver, and then took gold in 2021! In doing so she had also become the youngest ever winner of an Elite Cyclocross in Belgium.
After the race she commented:
'I saw my sister and my mum but I haven’t seen my dad because he was back home commentating on the race for Eurosport. Apparently, he was crying when I crossed the line. My sister and mum were both crying at the finish as well, they were so happy for me, and I’m so glad I could see them beyond the line.'
These are my remarkable women in cycling, who are yours?