Cycling on the road to equality with mixed gender time trial

David Lappartient (AP)
David Lappartient (AP)

Innsbruck - The International Cycling Union (UCI) says it has received a warm reception for plans to hold a mixed men's and women's national team event which will make its debut at the 2019 world championships in Yorkshire.

UCI president David Lappartient, British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch and female cyclists have hailed the move as a great step forward.

The event will see a team of three male cyclists complete a 14-kilometre lap with the women's team setting off on the same circuit once the second rider in the men's team has crossed the line. The final time will be taken when the second of the three women riders crosses the finish line with the overall quickest time winning.

"We have had good feedback from women so far," Lappartient told AFP at the 2018 world championships in Innsbruck.

"Not only have they (women) been put on the same level as the men by the fact that there are three men and three women, but the women finish the race so it's them that set the time," he said.

"I wanted the women to be the ones who finish so that in that way you have to watch the women to see who wins, which is another small victory for women's cycling," Lappartient said.

One competitor, Swiss cyclist Marlen Reusser, who came 17th in the women's time-trial in Innsbruck despite a fall, rejoiced at the news.

She said it was "absolutely" a step forwards for women's cycling.

"I totally agree with him (Lappartient), that is a wonderful sentiment and a wonderful thing to say," 27-year-old Reusser said.

"I myself prefer the team time-trial, the team time-trial is my favourite event, and if all goes well I should be in the Swiss national team next year so this would be wonderful, I'm really excited about that."

"It's just great for women's cycling, so yes it moves things forwards."

The competitions at the 2019 world championships in Yorkshire will open with the new event billed as the team time trial mixed relay, which replaces the "trade team" format which saw men and women race in separate teams organised by their employers such as Team Sky.

"I cannot wait to witness this first-ever team time trial mixed relay, which is part of the UCI's drive to further increase the attractiveness of our road world championships and encourage gender equality," Lappartient said at the Yorkshire 2019 unveiling event this week.

Frenchman Lappartient said he had had the idea of the national team relay while watching the Winter Olympics mixed gender biathlon, a mix of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting.

British sports minister Crouch said this week the new cycling event "is going to be one of the highlights of 2019".

"We want to encourage everyone to get involved in sports," she said at the presentation. "Events such as this can inspire many people to do just that."

Not everyone agrees.

Matt White, director at the Mitchelton-Scott team where the British Yates twins Simon and Adam race, condemned the new mixed event.

"I'm not a big fan," White told Cycling Weekly magazine. "There's no need to introduce Mickey Mouse events. We already had two very good events, the women's and men's time trials."

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