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Bristol Grand Prix: importance of contributing to the women’s racing calendar

It will come as no surprise that any event I would be involved in organising would have to have a pretty inclusive attitude.  And that is exactly the ethos the new Bristol Grand Prix cycle race on 20th June is trying hard to put at its core.  It’s only the inaugural year so not everything will be perfect, or indeed possible, within our means but the event includes an open opportunity for the public to ride the course, youth racing and that all important women’s race, er obviously!  All this, within a great partnership of Big Green Week and Le Sportif aiming to bring Bristol a city-centre bike race, made in Bristol, using local suppliers and hopefully inspiring people of all ages and abilities to cycle and #lovethefuture of cycling.  All supported and registered with British Cycling as part of the national calendar.

It was a no-brainer for the race organisers that if you were going to start a race you would offer equal opportunity to men and women to ride that race.  Although admittedly we are only able in this year to offer 1 race for all categories for women; this is due to the continuing challenges there are in filling women’s races, because the racing scene is less developed, and less invested in.  But I was reminded by just how important it is for race organisers to break this ‘chicken and egg’ stance and take the attitude that you have to put the race on, reading recent interviews from Sarah Connolly’s blog, in particular with Stefan Wyman of Matrix – regarding the women’s calendar.  Now I know the Bristol Grand Prix is not in the same league as a UCI race (yet – our other ambitions are to be big as well as inclusive!!).  But surely the same premise applies in offering equivalent opportunities and equal prizes, not gesture races – because to have great top flight women’s sport you have to change the system, and the system includes local racing.  Local racing is about so many things – but this one definitely includes developing individual women riders and showing other women and girls what is possible through the visibility of role models, showing them that #thisgirlcan.

It’s not enough to offer equal opportunity to race, and equal prize money, to be really committed to #beagamechanger for women’s sport we also have to try and invest in supporting the women’s racing scene, in between the races.  To actively make a contribution therefore the Bristol Grand Prix are keen to:

  • Promote the women’s race as widely as we can
  • Offering equal prize money for men’s and women’s categories
  • Suggesting that headline races could be alternated annually between the women’s and men’s races
  • Seeking out individuals or organisations able to help us support women entrants by providing funding or bursaries for race entrants fees and expenses
  • We are crowd funding for this project, should we overfund we are keen to invest in supporting the development of the girls and women’s racing scene locally as one of our priorities.
  • We are also looking to form partnerships with others and attracting investment for a legacy programme that supports the development of both youth and women’s racing.
  • In 2016 as a minimum we want to be able to deliver both an E,1,2 and a separate Cat 3,4 race.

If you like the look of what Bristol Grand Prix are doing to support women’s racing then support the race by:

More information on the race is available at the race website: www.bristolgrandprix.com and if you have any other queries please email us at bristolgrandprix@gmail.com

In 2015 we have one Elite, Cat 1, 2, 3 and 4 race for women  Entry is £25.

Because #thisgirlcan #Bristolgirlscan #getBristolcycling #womenscycling

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