The Daily Telegraph - Business : 2020-09-14

Sport : 36 : 28


28 The Daily Telegraph Monday 14 September 2020 *** Sport Dust-up: Annemiek van Vleuten stays ahead of Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig on the way to winning the second stage of the Giro Rosa ‘Finally, they don’t think our uteruses will fall out if we ride long stages’ brilliant post-race interview following the Tour of Flanders last year, which went viral, she hoped to “put the hammer down” during the longest stage in the marquee race of the women’s cycling season. The long-held view that women struggle over longer distances in the saddle can be traced back to beliefs which surfaced during the 1890s, when they first sat on bicycles. Doctors thought females were sexually stimulated when cycling, while others feared the vibrations from wheels could lead to death among the “weaker sex”. Thankfully, such perverse views disappeare­d after the bicycle became a symbol of liberation for women. Today, female riders are still viewed through the prism of incapabili­ty. In 2017, women’s stage distances at world tour level were upped from 140km to 160km by the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, to reflect the growing standard of the women’s peloton. Men can ride up to 260km. And when the Women’s World Tour calendar was revised in the wake of the coronaviru­s pandemic, there was a recurring theme: several women’s races were shortened so as not to disrupt versions of the men’s. Annemiek van Vleuten, the world road champion, has been a leading critic in questionin­g these shorter distances, which included the 96km La Course route won by Britain’s Lizzie Deignan last