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Posts tagged ‘women’s cycling’

US Women’s Cycling Changes

USA Cycling announced on Tuesday that it has created a “pro team structure” for women’s cycling. It all sounded a bit confusing. So, let’s see if we can sort it out, shall we?

Without getting on the phone and calling a bunch of people (because this is tumblr after all) here are the key points of the changes and some analysis of their significance.

The easiest to understand change will shift the women’s national championship to the same weekend as the men’s pro championship. Also, the women will race for equal prize money.

This one has been a long time coming. For years, the women raced the “elite nationals” (in Europe known as elite-without-contract), which received considerably less media coverage than the men’s US Pro Championship.

Now, women who are on elite and UCI-registered teams and who carry a category 1-2 license will race the same weekend as the men. The same change applies to the US Pro Criterium championship. Also, I’m just going to go ahead and say, fuckyeah equal prize money!

Under the new rules, the U23 women will get a separate national championship race. In the past, the U23 women raced with the elite women, but were scored separately. Confusing, right? And not especially awesome for the younger women trying to make names for themselves by winning nationals. So now, the U23 women will race the same weekend as the U23 men’s race and have their own chance to shine. This is an important change for developing young riders for the future.

The “pro team structure” is less easy to understand, because in the immediate future, it does not appear to change much of anything. This change is aimed at the future and at building the women’s side of the sport into a more professional and logical structure.

Currently, there is no “pro license” for women. Women race as “elite” and the top license category in the U.S. is category 1 for women. Women’s teams are registered through the national federations in much the same way as men’s continental teams. There are technically no “pro teams,” though obviously, we tend to consider teams such as Specialized-lululemon, Marianne Vos’s not-Rabobank team, and Orica-AIS as professional.

The creation of a “professional team structure” opens the way to offering a “pro license” for women. This would also presumably in time create a more coherent structure for professional teams. As the sport grows, the women could have a separate national championship races for the elite and the professional riders in the same way the men do.

For now, the change sounds intangible and symbolic, but in the long run, it opens the way for the pro teams to become more professional, while the elite non-pro teams serve to develop riders and prepare them for the professional ranks. It also should create a distinction between elite and professional riders, a change that potentially makes the top level more competitve and more straightforward to sell to sponsors.

For now, this measure doesn’t change much. In the future – and it’s unclear what the time frame might be on this development – it almost certainly will.

Last, the USA Cycling announced the creation of a new race category 2.HC. The Exergy Tour will run under this designation. UCI-registered teams and national teams can both  race in the 2.HC races.

(Updated! I removed some stuff here about race categories, because I still don’t quite understand the changes that are in place for next season.)

US Women’s Cycling Changes

Meredith Miller Pretty in Pink Raffle

Buy raffle tickets. Support Hope Lives. Win Prizes. Simple.

Meredith Miller, cyclocross badass and former national road champ, is raising money this October to support Hope Lives. The Fort Collins charity offers services and support for women undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

Miller chose Hope Lives, because fundraising for a local charity allows her to see the results of her efforts. The dollars she raises go directly to women in her Fort Collins community. Even small donations make a difference.

Want to help Miller reach her fundraising goal of $10,000 this year? All this week, you can buy raffle tickets to support Hope Lives and possibly win some pretty awesome prizes donated by the cycling industry.

This year’s grand prize is an S-Works Crux built up with SRAM Red and a Zipp 101 wheelset. There are also prizes from Thule, Kinetic, Light and Motion, Strava, Oakley, lululemon, Modify, and Boa Closure Systems.

Raffle tickets are $5 per ticket. Head to Bikereg to get yours. Tickets are on sale through 1 November, and Meredith will announce the winner on her website, mmcyclist.com.

Want more information? Go here.

Review: Pactimo Women’s Designer Jersey and Shorts

Pactimo was born in a basement in 2003. The Colorado-based company has grown just a little since then, and they offer clothing for cycling, running, and triathlon. The company also does custom team orders.

The thing that stands out most about Pactimo clothing? The colors. Especially in the Women’s Designer line, Pactimo loves bold colors and intricate graphics. If black-and-white is not your thing, Pactimo has got you covered.

I had the chance to try out a jersey and shorts from the Designer line. I have long been a bibshort kind of girl, but if I were to have a conversion experience, these Pactimo shorts just might do it.

The colors look just as rich in person as online, the quality of the stitching and materials is high, and the fit is comfy.

Sizing

Pretty much the worse part of online ordering is guessing sizes. Is the little picture with the measurements correct? In the case of Pactimo, it is. I tested size medium in both shorts and jersey, and the measurements matched the size chart. No unwelcome surprises, there.

Women’s Designer Short

I switched to bibshorts early in my cycling life, due in part to an aversion to the binding feeling that shorts tend to have in the waist. It turns out the waistband on these shorts is the very best part. Okay, they look pretty nice, too.

But people! The waistband! Knowing that tight elastic on long bike rides is not a fun thing, Pactimo gave these shorts a smooth front like you might find on a nice pair of yoga pants. The elastic bits are in the back, and the shorts stay on, but they don’t bind.

I hear you, enough about the waistband. You get it, it’s comfortable. The Chamois! Tell us about the chamois!

The chamois is thickest where your body meets the saddle. The varying thickness ensures that the chamois does not feel like a giant diaper. For me, it stayed put on the bike, and did not chafe. It is not quite as breathable as some of the new chamois creations out there, but this is a minor quibble.

One nice detail: There is no seam on the inner legs of these shorts. Very often even expensive cycling shorts will have a seam that runs along the inner leg. That thing gets in the way like nobody’s business. Pactimo has thoughtfully placed the seams to limit the possibility of chafing.

The leg grippers do their job without being binding. Nobody wants sausage legs, and Pactimo is totally on your side. The length is long enough to wear legwarmers without the dread gap forming between your shorts and your warmers.

If you’re looking for super short shorts, these probably aren’t going to be your choice. The length is traditional cycling short style.

Women’s Designer Jersey

The material on Pactimo’s jersey is silky soft. The tags warn against washing the clothing with velcro, so be sure to close your gloves before throwing them in the wash with your nice, new jerseys. The material does snag, but it’s not especially fragile relative to other performance fabrics.

The jersey feels nice on the skin and breathes well. A lighter-weight fabric on the side panels adds to the breathability. The waist gripper keeps the jersey in place without binding, and the sleeves are cut close to the body, so there was no flapping.

I’m 5’10” and long-waisted, so the medium jersey ran short when paired with the shorts. On the bike, it fit fine, but off the bike, I had a gap between the jersey and shorts. For most women, the length should work well. For the long-waisted girls, there will always be bibshorts.

Pricing

Retail price for the designer jersey and shorts collection typically runs around $95 for each piece. Cycling clothing is always expensive, but these pieces felt competitively priced for their quality. To order, head to the Pactimo website.

Equal Prize Money: Yay Cyclocross!

What she said. Equal prize money for men and women is important and awesome. The trend in cyclocross is running in this direction, at least at the top level races. Mountain bike racing has also traditionally supported women athletes well. Road racing, with its chronically underfunded teams and minimal prize money for women, could learn a thing or two from the dirt disciplines when it comes to gender equity. There is just so much to love about beer, barricades, and equal prize money. Keep it up, cyclocross!

More Women’s Transfer Talk

I seem to be having a women’s cycling moment here, so let’s roll with it, and talk transfers. Specifically, Tibco, Hitec, and Specialized-lululemon.

Yesterday, we learned that Tibco has signed three new riders to support the team’s international ambitions. Chantal Blaak, Shelley Olds, and Claudia Häusler will all join Tibco next year.

The additions should make for a competitve and balanced team at Tibco. Olds won a World Cup this year, why not another next time around? Häusler has not had the best of seasons lately, but she is a past Giro Donne winner. This combination looks intriguing, especially when combined with Tibco’s existing riders, especially if Amanda Miller and Megan Guarnier stay another year.

The other team snapping up talent this week is the Norwegian-registered Hitec team. Emma Johansson who rode as the team’s 2011 leader announced that she intended to transfer, though she has not confirmed her new team just yet. Hitec has lost no time in building up their roster.

First came the news earlier this week that Rachel Neylan and Rossella Ratto are joining the team for next year. Neylan won a silver medal behind Marianne Vos at this year’s World Championship road race. Ratto, meanwhile, is currently eighteen years old, and she finished sixth at the elite world championship road race. She also finished second at the junior worlds race in 2010 won both the junior road race and time trial at the 2011 European championships.

But Hitec wasn’t done yet. Today comes the news that the team has signed two more young talents in Emilia Fahlin and Chloe Hosking. Fahlin is the 2011 Swedish national time trial champion. Currently, 23 years old, Fahlin also won four stages of the challenging Tour de l’Ardèche last year.

For her part, Hosking is a screaming fast sprinter who got her start racing track and criteriums in Australia. In between racing bikes, Hosking is taking courses to get a journalism degree. At Specialized-lululemon, she’s raced in the formidable shadow of Ina-Yoko Teutenberg. It’s not too surprising that she might want to strike out on her own.

Of course, the signing of both Fahlin and Hosking by Hitec raises an obvious question. Should we panic about the future of Specialized-lululemon? Probably not. The 2011 Specialized-lululemon roster was packed to the brim with talent, and it’s not too surprising that some riders might choose to go elsewhere or that the budget might force some hard choices.

The sponsorship agreements for the Specialized-lululemon team ran only until the end of 2012. That’s like, this year. It’s hard to imagine Specialized withdrawing their support. The team feels like a great fit with their marketing. Lululemon is harder to predict. Their brand is growing in leaps and bounds, and they recently introduced their own cycling clothing line. That suggests an interest in the sport, but will they see continuing their sponsorship of the pro team key to promoting their brand? I don’t pretend to know the answer to that one.

All the same, I wouldn’t panic just yet. It’s early days for women’s cycling announcements, which sometimes extend well into December. Last year, Specialized did not release the team’s roster announcement until November.

But if you see a press release that announces that Evie Stevens has signed with a new team? Then sure, go ahead. Go ahead and panic like it’s the end of the world and stuff.