Sexism, apathy, injury, death… From city commuters to elite professionals, women in the saddle have had it too tough for too long. Finally, female cycling is about to step up a gear.
A year ago, Peter Sagan, a jockish Slovakian road racer, pinched the bottom of a young podium girl as she kissed the winner of the Tour of Flanders. As a scandal, it was minor by cycling standards, but it symbolised a major issue. The cyclist, who had finished second in the Belgian classic, apologised, but his actions and their fall-out had already said something more about a sport in which women have often been valued for their bearing in tight dresses. Because what few fans gleaned in the coverage of the pinch was that, on the same day, the brilliant Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos won the women’s version of the race. Typically, it had not been televised.