FORT COLLINS, Colo. (VN) — A new organization aimed at gaining equality for professional women cyclists launched on Saturday night following stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge.
Hours after Lauren Hall secured victory in the Fort Follies Grand Prix in front of massive Pro Challenge crowds in Fort Collins, Colorado, top women in the U.S. peloton stood before a packed room in the city’s Old Town district to officially launch the Women’s Cycling Association.
Current U.S. road champion Jade Wilcoxson was there with Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies teammates including Hall and Leah Kirchman, as well as the team’s director, Rachel Heal, and owner, Charles Aaron. So, too, was Whitney Schultz (Colavita-Fine Cooking), race promoter of the Grand Prix.
On a nearby sofa, NOW-Novartis for MS manager Kurt Stockton watched race announcer Dave Towle introduce a panel of WCA representatives to loud applause. Across the room, cyclocross professional Amy Dombroski (Telenet-Fidea) talked with friends. Her voice cracking, former local and 2009 U.S. road champion Meredith Miller (Tibco-To the Top) commented to the audience on her retirement from road racing. Stockton’s former teammate and current Universal Sports commentator, Todd Gogulski, stood near the back of the room.
Nearly three months ago, the WCA began as a conversation among a handful of riders in Philadelphia. On Saturday, the organization went public. NOW teammates Robin Farina, Devon Haskell Gorry, and Lauren Rauck Komanski joined Wilcoxson in front of roughly 200 supporters filling a room at the Rio Grande Restaurant — the sponsor of the amateur team where Giro Donne champion Mara Abbott (Exergy Twenty16) and U.S. criterium champion Alison Powers (NOW) got their starts in racing.
“The Women’s Cycling Association wants to support women’s cycling and see it advance,” said Farina. “We want to make it viable, we want to make more women get on bikes, we just want to have support, and we’ve come up with a lot of platforms and ideas.”
While details on specific initiatives was light on Saturday night, the WCA has been active in forwarding an online petition to support the creation of a women’s Tour de France, and Farina spoke on Saturday about engaging the media in telling stories about women’s racing that connect fans to the sport.
On its newly launched website, the organization describes its mission as one aimed at supporting female racers and working with federations and the press to move the sport forward: “To develop, maintain, and support a network of women cyclists and supporters of women’s cycling. The WCA will work to advance the interests of women cyclists by developing and advancing policies with governing bodies and engaging in media outreach.”
With a claimed membership of approximately 100 riders, the WCA is seeking additional membership — from women at this time — and, as Wilcoxson said, will work toward a future in which professional women’s riders are provided workplace equality with male riders.
“The basic vision for the WCA is equality, period,” she said. “What does that mean? If all of our daughters and younger sisters can go to a race like the USA Pro Challenge and see women racing and set a goal for themselves that, ‘I want to do that and ride professionally some day, and I want to be paid the same as the man for equal day’s work,’ we will have achieved our vision.”
The organization’s vision is in place, and its work — however it intends to pursue that vision — is only starting.