The Trust House Series is heading towards a new series in 2016, with the first round being held on September 18th. This year in the series race director Jorge Sandoval would love to be able to welcome a women’s field to run throughout the five-race series.
The last time a women’s category featured in the Trust House Series was a couple of years ago. Since then, as in racing around the country, the major stumbling block that has prevented the women’s category returning has been lack of entrants. And for Jorge Sandoval it’s not just been the Trust House Series that suffered. “I decided in 2016 to stop doing the women’s UCI Tour of New Zealand due to the lack of NZ women wanting to take part in the tour,” Jorge explained.
“Three weeks before the 2015 women’s tour I was contemplating cancelling the tour as we only had 45 overseas entries and three Kiwi girls (NZ based). In order to stage the race I had to pay 15k out of my money to get three Australian club teams at the last minute all expenses paid to come to the tour. We ended up with a field of 65 riders, 12 of them NZ girls and we managed to stage the race with a small field but it’s not really the way to do a UCI tour.”
This year there is a potential resurgence in the women’s cycling scene in the Waiararapa as the possibility for racing the Trust House Series rears its head. While the series is a team series, for the women’s category Sandoval has opted for a different approach that he hopes will prove attractive to the female cycling community. “In this year’s series I have been contacted by a few girls wanting to enter, wanting to know if there will be a women’s grade,” Sandoval told us. “To make things easier for them, I decided to create a women’s grade where they don’t need to enter as a team but individually, they don’t need to get team uniforms etc and we will have prizes for Junior, elite and masters women.”
That said, for the women’s category to eventuate this year there need to be a couple of hurdles navigated. “Time will tell if we do have a women’s race, we need a minimum of 25 riders per race to justify all our time and expenses in running the grade, so it’s entirely up to them really. Distances will be the same as masters men grades, around 80-90 km per race,” Jorge told RoadCycling.
“Series like this are where they should take part and compete against other women riders, the club racing scene is not the best, but events like ours provide some serious racing for the elite riders who want to go further and take part in a very well organised series.”
It’s clear that something needs to be done to encourage greater female participation in cycling in New Zealand, but race organisers like Jorge Sandoval are taking steps to keep the door open for women to race. But it’s clear that the door can only remain open if there are women signing up to ride. “Race organisers cannot spend thousands of dollars in TMP’s, council permits, race officials, classification jerseys, hall hire, publicity etc if only 6-10 women are going to take part in a race (as was the case in this series a couple of years ago). The end result is they feel that organisers don’t want them there, that they are treated unfairly. It is not the case at all,” Jorge told RoadCycling. “The issue here is to justify spending so much money and time for 6 girls to have a race that they don’t even enjoy.”
Both Jorge and us at RoadCycling hope that there will indeed be a resurgence in women’s cycling domestically, and that this year a large women’s field will take to the start lines of the five races that comprise the Trust House North Island Series.
To enter the Trust House North Island Series, which gets underway on 18th September, check out the Trust House Series website for entry forms and information.