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StrongHer: Take the Stage comes of age

Marianne Vos, Manon Carpenter and Alex Dowsett among pros launching new platform to get more women cycling at all levels

Marianne Vos, Manon Carpenter and Alex Dowsett are among top professional riders supporting a new platform to get more women cycling at all levels across the sport. 

At the launch of StrongHer on Friday, three times road World Champion Vos said sharing her passion for cycling and getting more women on bikes is more important to her than winning medals, while British Time Trial champion, Alex Dowsett, said the men's peloton thinks pro-women's racing should be equal to men's.

A follow up to Take the Stage, it is hoped Strongher, with its online community, app, and "Sheroes", who will act as inspiration and mentors, will provide a supportive environment for more women to take up riding, from road to mountain biking to cyclocross disciplines.

Vos said at the launch: "It's very interesting to see the growth of women's cycling and to see more and more women on bikes, finding out how great it is to cycle around. We all know how fantastic it is but as a pro you're in a small world, and now you can share your passion. For me that's even more important than winning races or winning medals."

Strongher, led by pro cyclists, is a platform to share cycling experiences, rides, inspiration and ideas, and to meet other women riding. There will also be events organised, including an upcoming London-Paris ride to meet La Course in July 2016.

A surprise addition at the launch, Alex Dowsett voiced his full support for the initiative.

Dowsett said: "I think I speak on behalf of a large part of the men's peloton who don't see why women's cycling shouldn't be equal to the men's. Personally I have found it quite frustrating that it is easy for organisers to put on a women's event beside the men's event, and I don't see why that can't happen across stage races, across everything, that's why when I heard about Strongher, I'm in full support," he said.

Downhill mountain biking champion, Manon Carpenter, said she would like to use Strongher to organise events for new and younger riders, and hopes having a women-only platform will provide a supportive environment for greater female participation in the sport.

"There are loads of cool aspects of this, like the social media side of things. I follow loads of action sports on social media and I think to have this core of riders all in one place you only have to look through to get a few ideas, what holidays to go on, what sort of races to do.

"I would really like to start organising some downhill events for younger riders, or beginners, just to get a load of girls together, I think I'd have as much fun as them," she said.

"Sometimes when you're starting out it's a bit intimidating going out with more experienced riders because you'll make all these mistakes, and maybe it's a bit more friendly to do it in a women's environment."

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