An Oceania team of top women cyclists has been named to compete in New Zealand’s only one-day UCI road cycling event in Manawatu this month; the Gravel and Tar La Femme.
For the first time, a team representing the Oceania Cycling region, and drawn from Australia and New Zealand, has been selected for the UCI 1.2 Gravel & Tar La Femme race starting in Feilding on Saturday, 19 January.
2018 Commonwealth Games cyclist Sharlotte Lucas along with fellow New Zealander Grace Anderson, and Australian riders Brodie Chapman, Lizzie Stannard and Emma Jane Chilton, will contest the 116km race which includes challenging gravel sections totalling 40km.
Lucas, who now rides professionally for World Tour outfit TIBCO – Silicon Valley Bank, is chasing UCI points early in the season by competing in the Santos Women’s Tour in Australia prior to the Gravel & Tar La Femme race.
“Racing against such a strong field of New Zealand and international riders in a UCI 1.2 event at home is really exciting.
“I think it will really showcase the depth and talent of some of the female athletes from NZ competing and provide an awesome opportunity for valuable UCI points,” she said.
Lucas believed the 40km of gravel added its own level of complexity and made the event stand out from the others.
“Gravel throws in a real technical element to a race as well as a higher chance of mechanical issues adding to the challenge”.
Offering an equal prize purse to that of the men’s race as well as the level of difficulty has been a drawcard for the women riders.
“I am impressed that Gravel & Tar has stepped up, (as) often in cycling the women’s event comes second to the guys in terms of prize money, coverage and race distance and to offer equality is outstanding.”
“We train just as hard as the guys, but do not get the same opportunities, so thanks to the organising team for this amazing opportunity,” she said.
Oceania Cycling Confederation President and UCI Management Committee Member Tracey Gaudry said, “The Oceania Cycling Confederation is pleased to sponsor a team for the first UCI edition of Gravel and Tar La Femme. As one of four UCI sanctioned women’s road races in Oceania it provides an important opportunity for riders from our region to gain experience and UCI points.
“With reigning Oceania Champion Sharlotte Lucas, winners at UCI events in Oceania in 2018 Grace Anderson and Brodie Chapman as well as two rising stars Lizzie Stannard and Emma Chilton the team has a mix of youth and experience and I am sure they will be out to perform.
“We’re delighted to see the event offer the same prize money for the women’s race as the men’s, which features on the UCI Oceania Tour and continues a trend of race organisers supporting the growth of women’s cycling across Oceania.”
La Femme race director Jo Holdaway said the selection represents the best up-and-coming elite women in Oceania.
“It is awesome these women are bringing a strong team dynamic, will show their work ethic in this difficult race, and be great role models for younger riders coming after them.
“Of course, they will be wanting to be in good form early in the season and collect those valuable UCI points,” she said.