Velo Project women’s cycling team, New Zealand’s most successful domestic women’s cycling team for 2018, are gearing up to be a part of the inaugural Gravel and Tar La Femme and to be a part of this history-making race.
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The event, held in Palmerston North, is the only UCI race for women in New Zealand and features equal prize money. This signals a huge step forward in the sport, where women find it difficult to make a living, in stark contrast to their male counterparts.
Women’s cycling has evolved to be a display of aggressive riding and team tactics, Velo Project hope to repay the sponsors’ faith by providing a spectacle demonstrating various facets of racing.
This gesture by the race organiser is really encouraging and assists in the development of female riders within New Zealand, this is also the underlying ethos of Velo Project – to tap into and nurture the talent of riders with a feeling of contributing to the team environment and, in turn, to cycling.
“The event will be one of the hardest our riders have faced but they are no strangers to gravel, having competed, and finished first and second in the final round of the Calder Stewart Series in 2018, which included gravel sections,” team manager Andrew Williams said.
The team, which celebrates its first birthday, won the teams section, first individual and first under 19 individuals in the series, before turning its attention to the Dynamo Events team series in the North Island, where they dominated the team time trial and have won every race so far.
Team member Holly Edmondston won the recent national elite women’s road race and Ally Wollaston, Annamarie Lipp and Sami Donnelly won silver at the 2018 Junior World Track Championships.
The team is proud to announce a strong line-up for the Gravel and Tar event, including hard hitters Elyse Fraser and Kirsty McCallum.
Fraser and McCallum are lining up at the prestigious Women’s Tour Down Under this week, representing New Zealand in a star-studded field.
Riders will return to Australia following Gravel and Tar Le Femme for more UCI racing exposure. Fraser said the timing of Gravel and Tar couldn’t be better.
“In the future the international field racing in Australia will hopefully jump across the ditch between races and join our UCI event.
“The organisers have really stepped up offering equal prize money to the men, going a long way for equality and will encourage women’s cycling to continue to grow in New Zealand, which is currently at an all-time peak,” Fraser said.
“Female riders train extremely hard which will be evident on this physically demanding and technical course.
“It is exciting that the event’s regional sponsors have recognised this, as well as Velo Project’s loyal sponsors,” she said.
McCallum said she is “super excited to have the opportunity to race a UCI level race here in New Zealand.”
“It provides a pathway to develop as a professional rider overseas in the future with the opportunity to gain UCI points.
“Gravel and Tar will be the most exciting race on the NZ calendar,” she said.
“I have raced on the gravel before, however, Gravel and Tar will be a challenge for sure.
“Having equal prize money for the women recognizes that we train just as hard as the men’s peloton, which is great,” McCallum said.