Women to make history at the Amgen Tour of California
FOLSOM, CA -- The ninth annual Amgen Tour of California is considered to be the most elite cycling event next to the Tour De France.
Fighting their own battle are the women of the cycling community, trying to get noticed in a sport primarily dominated by men.
This year, women cyclists are making history in the Amgen Tour of California.
Compared to their male counterparts, women cyclists' bike frames might be built a little smaller; their time behind the handlebars might be stretched a little thin due to their motherly duties.
"When I'm out training, there is no dilly-dallying; it's out, get the work out done, get home," said cyclist Marley Smith.
But these women know just as well as any man what it's like to be a fierce competitor; however, they haven't always been given the chance to prove it.
In the 8-year-history of the Tour of California, women have only been allowed to compete in 1 of the 8 stages.
Until this year, when for the first time, the lady cyclists get to suit up for two events.
It might not sound like big deal, but that makes Amgen the largest race of its caliber featuring women cyclists.
Cyclists like Heather Lipana, who will be riding in the Stage 1 circuit race, which starts at the State Capitol. This is the first time women will be participating in this event.
"I get chills just thinking about actually being in the race rather than just watching it," said Lipana.
Cyclist like Marley Smith who will be riding in the Stage 2 time trial event in Folsom.
"I just think it's a huge complement to women's cycling and really a small taste of the future of how it's moving forward," said Smith.
"I think It's huge steps. It's huge steps for women in this sport to get some additional recognition," said Folsom Bike-Cervelo Women's Team manager Erin Gorrell who has five local athletes riding in Amgen events this year.
But you have to wonder: Why is it that in 2014, women still aren't considered equal in the sport?
"It's not that they're not as strong as the men or they can't race a good race, but they don't have the draw like men," said Gorrell.
When given the opportunity, she says, the cycling world will see, women are equally as fun to watch.
"Equality is always a great thing, they're athletes just the same as the men are, they love cycling just the same as the men, they are women that are trying to make a full time career out of this it's just the same," said Smith.
When these women put peddle to pavement on race day, they'll be looking beyond the laps and personal bests to a future rich in women's professional cycling events.
"We are really excited to have this opportunity and feel very fortunate to be a part of it," said Lipana.