Celebrate Women’s History Month with Women’s Cycling Team Boompods2 Min Read
Women in cycling have historically taken a backseat to the men’s peloton, but thanks to the two previous generations of women — starting with the 1984 Summer Olympic Games where women’s cycling events were first introduced — the momentum is building for the latest generation to thrive. Women are now taking their wheels to race at Le Tour Femmes (the Women’s Tour de France) and finding a welcome reception and equitable experience in the relatively new sport of endurance gravel racing.
Megmeister believes so much in the future of women’s cycling and its ability to empower a new generation of active, independent, and motivated women that it sponsors the U.K.-based Boompods squad. To get an idea of the current state of women’s bike racing and its future, we reached out to Gemma Lianne Mitchell, a 42-year-old member of the Boompods team, for her perspective on the sport.
MEGMEISTER: What was the spark that ignited your passion to pursue a life as a pro-cyclist?
LIANNE MITCHELL: I’ve always been into sports, doing gymnastics from age three until I was about 25. Then I got into triathlon, regularly racing in the European and World Championships. From that, I got into cycling — well, mountain biking first — then road racing.
M: Would you share a few highlights from your career with Boompods? Or from racing on the women’s pro circuit?
L.M.: I’m new to Boompods in 2023, but 2022 was a standout season for me with numerous top-10 results in National (U.K.) A and B races. Plus, becoming a national Masters criterium champion was certainly a highlight.
M: What does it mean to you to race for a team created and managed by women, for women?
L.M.: This, for me, is massive. I’ve always worked in an industry where males are dominant (first in personal training and now in cycling). So to be on a team run by women, for women — and a very successful one at that — is super special.
M: What would you tell a young girl who loves cycling as much as you do and wants to try racing?
L.M.: Never forget your love for riding your bike. Join a local club, get out riding in groups, and try some local races together with them. Everyone has to start somewhere. I remember my very first race: I was dropped from the bunch within the first few laps but kept riding as hard as I could. I didn’t catch them, but I also didn’t get lapped by them. So, I knew I was strong enough to be there. Use your first few races to learn the sport and how to race. Enjoy the process. As the saying goes, “Happy head, happy legs.”
M: What’s the biggest hindrance to growing women’s racing as a global sport, and by extension, cycling by women in general? And what would you like to see done about it?
L.M.: There is still a huge lack of women’s racing coverage on social media and TV. If there were more opportunities to watch women’s racing, people would see how exciting it is. It’s getting better, but very slowly.
There’s also a lack of parity between men’s and women’s cycling. There have been small improvements over time, but we need equal pay, equal prize money, equal race coverage, equal race durations — I could go on and on.
M: Why and how do you believe women’s bike racing is better than men’s bike racing?
L.M.: I know I sound biassed, but women’s racing is way more exciting than men’s. Women’s races are shorter, so there are generally more attacks, more aggressive riding, and more team tactics. Yes, the men’s field has those same attributes, but since the women’s races are shorter, the race is more action-packed and exciting right from the start. Just watch one for yourself, and you’ll see what I mean.
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