Overcoming Obstacles in Women's Cycling: The Journey of Every Young Female Athlete

Overcoming Obstacles in Women's Cycling: The Journey of Every Young Female Athlete

Succeeding in pro cycling means tackling countless challenges and obstacles head-on. For female cyclists like myself, the journey is far more challenging as we, like many women, are forced to navigate a male-dominated industry. In this article, I share my perspective on the obstacles women have overcome so far and the strides being made towards a more inclusive and equitable future.

Key Takeaways:

  • Navigating a male-dominated industry as a female professional often involves breaking down barriers and forging a path that challenges traditional norms.
  • The 2022 Women’s Tour de France achieved a cumulative live audience of 23.2 million people. Roughly the same as the 2023 Wimbledon.
  • More than 70% of women working in the cycling industry are looking to leave in the next 12 months.
  • I founded HOSKING Bikes to break down barriers and become the first female to find success in this male dominated industry.

Breaking Barriers:

From the start of my cycling career, gender barriers have been a persistent theme. As long as I can remember, women's cycling has grappled with inequities in funding, media representation, and opportunities when compared with our male counterparts. The struggle to overcome these obstacles represents a challenge that male professionals never seemed to comprehend. Beyond showcasing our physical and mental fortitude, women must defend their right to be in the room, while continually fighting for greater recognition, support, and opportunities. All without compromising our performance.

“Our ongoing advocacy aims to pave a more accessible and equitable path for those who will walk in our footsteps”.

A significant stride in recent years has been the push for a universal minimum wage for all female professionals in cycling. Over my 13-year career, it was disheartening to witness not only the evident gap between myself and male counterparts but also the stark contrast within the female professional peloton – where some received salaries while many received none. This imbalance underscored the irony of equal commitment, dedication, and sacrifices from all cyclists in the professional peloton. Although collective efforts - particularly by The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA) -  have made strides in closing this gap, there is still unfinished work to do.

Around the same time women were making progress towards a minimum wage, the world started to acknowledge the incredible potential for women’s cycling when it received coverage. This was an important step for women in cycling, as the media plays a crucial role in shaping the narrative and creating opportunities. Highlighting our achievements, struggles, and stories not only inspires the next generation of female cyclists but also showcases the diversity and strength within the sport. Organisations that have invested in coverage for women have seen a significant return on their investment. The 2022 Women’s Tour de France, the first edition in modern cycling history, achieved a cumulative live audience of 23.2 million people world wide. For the sake of parity, in 2023 the Men’s NBA finals achieved an audience of 17.8 million viewers, Wimbledon 25.6 million viewers, and the Super Bowl 115.1 million viewers. While the first women’s Tour de France fell short of our male counterparts, it already exceeds many major male sporting events. With room to grow.


Challenges on and off the Road:

Physically demanding and mentally gruelling, professional cycling presents challenges that are not exclusive to gender. However, women face unique hurdles, including menstrual health, pregnancy (for which we only received maternity leave quite recently, after significant advocacy by The Cyclists Alliance), and postpartum recovery. Addressing these challenges involves fostering an environment where female athletes feel supported and understood, with access to resources that cater to their specific needs.

The challenges women face are not limited to those on the road, but the overwhelming gender disparity within the industry. None of the major brands, sponsors, or teams are owned by women. Across the five major bike brands, only 13% of the Executive are women. And unsurprisingly, more than 70% of women employed in the cycling industry are looking to leave in the next 12 months.

Why Female-Led Initiatives Matter:

The importance of female-led initiatives and businesses within the cycling industry cannot be overstated. These initiatives play a critical role in addressing many of the unique challenges women face. Here's why:

Representation and Empowerment: Female-led initiatives contribute to increased representation and empowerment within the industry. By fostering an environment where women are not only present but also hold leadership positions, these initiatives become catalysts for cultural change.

Understanding and Addressing Unique Challenges: Women-led businesses are better positioned to understand and address the unique challenges faced by female cyclists, both on and off the road. This understanding allows for the development of tailored solutions and support systems.

Inspiring Future Generations: Female-led initiatives serve as powerful sources of inspiration for future generations of female cyclists. Seeing women successfully navigating and influencing the industry encourages young athletes to pursue their passion with confidence.

Creating a More Inclusive Landscape: Supporting female-led businesses contributes to the creation of a more inclusive landscape within the cycling community. It challenges the existing norms, promotes diversity, and breaks down longstanding barriers.

Initiatives to improve the representation of women across the industry are essential. Efforts that create better opportunities and greater influence play a crucial role in breaking down barriers and improving outcomes. It is precisely this reason that I founded HOSKING Bikes. The first and only female founded, managed and wholly owned bike brand. Because without women being willing to forge a path in this male dominated industry, it will never change. Without women to support and empower those who take on the challenge, we can never create a more welcoming and equal landscape for women.


In the tapestry of professional cycling, the narrative of overcoming gender-related obstacles remains both challenging and triumphant. My journey as a professional cyclist echoes the collective effort made by many advocating for equality within the sport. While strides have been taken, there is an ongoing need to ensure the continuous evolution of women's cycling, securing the recognition, support, and opportunities it rightfully deserves.

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