Stonehaven cyclist’s gruelling challenge

Lucy Ritchie in cycling action. Picture: Paula Stronach
Lucy Ritchie in cycling action. Picture: Paula Stronach

An amateur cyclist from Stonehaven will next month take on one of the toughest challenges to raise awareness for gender equality in the sport.

As part of an international team, Lucy Ritchie and nine other women from around the world will ride 3460km in 21 days, one day ahead of the men’s professional race, across France.

In the summer of 2015, three French women rode the entire route, in advance of the male professional peloton, to bring awareness to gender inequality in cycling and to campaign for women’s tours to be held alongside the men’s.

There is currently no women’s equivalent of the Tour de France.

The French team, Donnons des Elles au Velo J-1, has ridden every year since and this year will be joined by the International Team, The InternationElles.

Lucy, 44, who started road cycling aged 39, gained her Category 3 racing licence in 2018 and has represented Team GB at the UCI Amateur Gran Fondo World Championships in Albi, France (2017) and Varese, Italy (2018).

The only Scot in a team of women from the UK, Australia, Ireland, USA, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the former Dunnottar Primary and Mackie Academy pupil has been training since January but is under no illusion as to how difficult the challenge will be.

She said: “It’s about creating a balance, but we can’t do that unless women have the same opportunities as men.

“For me this challenge goes beyond cycling, and I want to make sure future generations have the same opportunity in whatever they choose to pursue.”

Currently self-funded, the mission is to cycle for equality, raise awareness and encourage all genders and ages to take up the sport.

The team leaves Brussels on July 5 and arrives in Paris on July 27.