To celebrate International Women’s Day, Bikmo take a look at the female cyclists who have helped shape the sport within Great Britain, brought success for GB and are riders to watch in the future, in what is arguably still unfortunately, a male dominated sport.
Without getting into the politics of the sport, and the reasons that women’s cycling is not promoted or reported on as much as their male equivalents, let’s just enjoy the huge success that we’ve had over the years, and look forward to the continued success we will have in the future.
In 1949, with the sole purpose of increasing the opportunity for women to participate in all cycling disciplines, Eileen founded a women’s association which was to be later known as the Women’s Cycle Racing Association.
“The purpose of the Women’s Cycle Racing Association is to increase the opportunity for women in all forms of cycle sport, to support them in cycling at all levels in all disciplines. To encourage British Cycling, CTT and other cycling organisations to improve opportunities for women to participate actively in all forms of cycling, to challenge inequality in press coverage, prize money, sponsorship and International opportunities for women.”
With such an admirable mission statement and a huge amount of dedication, the association was only brought to an end 58 years later in 2007, when it was deemed to have accomplished its goals.
Beryl Burton OBE
For 4 decades, Beryl dominated the British time trial scene, taking 72 national time trial titles across all distances, setting 50 national time trial records and being crowned the RTTC BBAR for 25 consecutive years. Over the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s she was the rider to beat, not just for the other women but for the men too. With 7 world titles and 24 national titles on the road and track, in addition to a Tour de France stage win, her impressive all-round success in cycling is likely never to be bettered.
In 1982, after a successful season in both track and time trial events, Mandy took her career best win at the road world championships. On home turf at the Goodwood motor circuit, and 15 years since the last British winner, Mandy escaped her breakaway companions to solo to victory, earning an amazing World Champion title and the honour of wearing the striped jersey for a year.
Yvonne McGregor MBE
With a professional cycling career in the mid 90’s and early 00’s, anyone who followed the GB team on the track can probably still recall Hugh Porter’s enthusiastic commentary on the TV, which brought Yvonne’s name and success to the masses. With National, Commonwealth and Olympic medals, Yvonne was possibly the first women cyclist to became a household name to mainstream viewers. Adding the ‘hour’ record in 2002, to her already impressive career, her distance of 43.689km was only bettered by Sarah Storey in 2015.
Victoria Pendleton CBE
With the ability to bankrupt most ‘cash for gold’ outlets, should she ever want to cash her medal haul in, we’re not sure she’d be able to carry them all in one go. With so much success on the track, we took ‘wins’ for granted, and whenever she rode it was almost guaranteed to add to our medal tally. After a career spanning 10 years, Victoria ended on a high at the London Olympics, taking Gold in the Keirin and Silver in the Sprint, adding the Sprint World Champion title later in the year.
Focussing on the road and being particularly talented at time trialling, Emma took 3 National titles in addition to 1 for the road. With numerous other impressive results, she was also not afraid to sacrifice her own chances in support of her teammates. Using her strong time trialling skills, she has switched her focus most recently to competing in Triathlon and Duathlon, where she has again been victorious.
Nicole Cooke MBE
Wow…what a career. With Nicole’s focus being mainly on the road, her victories were possibly overshadowed by the success that Team GB were having on the track at the time. Nicole’s palmares is most impressive, and we’re not sure we can fully do it justice here. Suffice to say that, I’m sure most male cyclists would, at the drop of a hat, trade their own victories for such a career. With World, Commonwealth, National, Classics and Tour titles to her name, check out her full palmares on her website.
Dame Sarah Storey
As Britain’s most successful female paralympian, Sarah was already a highly accomplished swimmer before switching her talents to cycling in 2005. Further success came rapidly, with 2 Olympic gold medals in 2008. With many more National, Commonwealth and Olympic titles to follow, netting her a total of 6 cycling Golds, her achievements were honoured with a DBE in 2013. Not resting just yet, she set a new British hour record of 45.502km in 2015.
With an impressive all-round talent on the road and track, Lizzie has wins in both single day and multi stage events. Taking the British National road title on 5 occasions, the Commonwealth title in 2014 and a World title in 2015, we’re sure that there’s plenty more to come.
Laura Kenny CBE
Aged only 24, Laura is already Britain’s most successful Olympic female athlete in not just cycling, but any sport. Having concentrated mainly on track events for the Olympics, she has netted herself and GB a total of 4 Gold medals. Adding many National and World titles to her medal haul, and the potential to compete in several more Olympics, she is sure to remain in the history books forever.
5 times World Champion and 6 times British National Champion, Rachel has a talent for downhill mountain biking like no other. Adding 4 UCI World Cup titles to her career wins, and many Sportswoman of the year awards, we feel that there’s more jerseys and achievements coming her way this year.
Another highly successful downhill mountain biker, with 2 National titles, 2 UCI World Cup titles and a British DH Series title already to her name. At 23, we are watching her career closely, and can only see her success going in the opposite direction to her events.