For those of you familiar with cyclo-cross, you will have heard of the Koppenbergcross – a storied and extremely challenging cyclo-cross race. This race brings the crowds and the top cyclo-cross racers out to duke it out on an historic course. For all accounts, it is a cyclo-cross race – a damn hard one – but still a cyclo-cross race… but now something is changing for Koppenbergcross in 2014…
The women’s race has been renamed to GP Twenty20 Cycling and this race will now offer equal prize money for the women racing. Yes – this means that elite women professional cyclo-cross racers will be paid the same amount of money for their results as the men. This is a big deal. A really big deal. (I’m guessing that some of you thought this was already happening – nope – women’s prize money lags far behind the men…)
It is a tremendous step forward for women’s cycling and cyclo-cross in particular that this change has happened. One of the people instrumental in building and creating this forward momentum in women’s cyclo-cross and in cyclo-cross in general is European and British champion Helen Wyman (also bronze medalist at the 2014 World Cyclo-Cross Championships). Helen is a member of the UCI cyclo-cross commission and has been working hard to bring about changes in the sport.
“In my eyes, this is a huge step. It is a very significant moment for women’s cycling. This allows women to make one step up the ladder towards equality. I spend a lot of my free time trying to advance women’s cyclocross and I hope this will lead to a chain reaction of races who do the same, as I know the support is there from sponsors, supporters and riders. To be a part of this development for the sport is fantastic for me,” says Helen.
Helen adds, “For the Koppenbergcross to be the first race in Europe to do this is very special. I love the Koppenbergcross, to me it is the biggest race outside of the World Championships. It is legendary. To have an American sponsor back the race shows how significant it is around the world. I can’t thank Twenty20 Cycling enough on behalf of all of the racers that take part next season. I’m certainly already looking forward to the GP Twenty20 Cycling and hope to collect another cobble stone in 2014.”
Kristopher Auer, manager of Twenty20 Cycling, is proud to connect the name of his company to the women’s race of the Koppenbergcross. “Twenty20 Cycling Co. is a small two-store bicycle shop located in Baltimore and Savage, Maryland in the United States. One of the things that makes our business unique is how it developed from a cyclocross background. Since before we opened our business I have been supporting the growth of cyclocross in America. I was promoting UCI cyclocross races in Baltimore nearly a decade ago when I met my future business partners. Growing the sport has always been on our agenda and I’ve always looked to ensure both women and men can race with equal opportunity.”
“There have been a lot of discussion recently about the globalisation of the sport, and women’s racing is high on the agenda for change. Following discussion with Helen Wyman, a six-time winner in our UCI races in Baltimore, we looked for an opportunity to do our part to help advance these two key areas of change. As a company we are excited to be part of such a prestigious event as the Koppenbergcross. It is an amazing race with its own rich history, tough conditions and a fantastic venue. We are proud to be part of what I believe to be an important, if not historic, moment for women’s CX and women’s cycling in general. The growth of women’s sport is not to be ignored and we are hopeful that support of the Koppenbergcross will send a powerful message in Europe and the United States that the time is now.”
To read more about this exciting news, visit the following websites:
Helen Wyman’s thoughts on the announcement
Podium Cafe interview with Helen Wyman
So book your calendars for November 1, 2014 and get ready to watch history in the making.