With the goals of the continued development of women’s cycling, giving women a stage to show themselves and getting more women on bikes, a host of professional cyclists like Marianne Vos, Hannah Barnes, Lauren Kitchen and gathered in London this evening to launch Strongher, The Stage for Women Who Ride.
Claiming it to be “one of the most unique and important initiatives in the history of the sport,” Strongher is more than an initiative. An expansion of efforts like We Own Yellow, Take the Stage and RoadtripParis, Strongher is a movement to connect the professional and recreational world of cycling while unifying all the various global women cycling initiatives under a shared goal of getting more women on bikes and given female professionals a stage to show themselves.
“Women’s cycling is getting more and more popular and as the sport is growing more initiatives are being developed. The time is right for women’s cycling to take the stage and close the gap to the men, Strongher will be this stage,” stated Marianne Vos, one of the Strongher founders. “We want to increase the exposure of all the professional athletes and reveal the people and characters of the sports. We want to give amateur women the confidence they need to start racing, developing events and other grassroots initiatives, inspiring women to take up cycling for the first time and giving everyone the belief they can achieve and giving them a stage to show themselves.”
Strongher will have both an online and offline presence. Online, Strongher will serve as a hub to connect women worldwide and collect information on who is cycling, where they are cycling and what kind of cycling they do. A newly developed app will let women ride and chat with each other. And offline, the group is developing fresh new events to get more women riding while also seeking cooperation with organisations like L’Etape de Tour to create more women’s races where a men’s race is already in place.
Backing from the industry is need as well, and the group hopes to bring together all the stakeholders in cycling –the federations, communities, athletes, events and companies – to discuss opportunities.
Their first industry backer, Shimano, is happy to be on board.
“With our brands Shimano and Pearl Izumi we always had a clear focus on specific women products, as women cyclists have different anatomy, demands and taste,” says Mike Smink, Sr. Marketing Manager at Shimano Benelux. “The creation of the Strongher platform inspired us to spread the message towards our retail partners that women like to be treated different than male cyclists. By initiating the Strongher Women Friendly Store label not only a wider selection of women products within cycling stores will be promoted, yet also offering specific facilities that are appreciated by women, such as decent and comfortable fitting possibilities.”
Among the many pro’s and ambassadors of Strongher are Marianne Vos, Gracie Elvin, Iris Slappendel, Marijn de Vries, Roxane Knetemann, Amanda Spratt, Valentina Scandolara, Lucy Garner, Hannah Barnes, Shara Gillow, Kasia Niewiadoma, Megan Guarnier, Manon Carpenter, Lauren Kitchen, Floortje Mackaij, Lucinda Brand, Stefany Hernandez, Ellen van Dijk, Ashleig Moolman, Evelyn Stevens, Sunguen Gu, Nynke de Jong, Ellen Brunninkhuis, Annemijn Briet, Marit Huisman, Michelle Zacht, Andrea Lodder, Kim Peters, Lillie Rumpf, Daphne Karagianis, Carola Groeneveld, Juliet Elliott, Romina Lemmert, Beth Hodge, Rebecca Charlton, Chantal Soesters, Cynthia Schultz, Anneloes Kokhuis, Saska Haex, Eva Synnestvedt Hansen, Loes Gunnewijk, Maan Klomp, Andrea Marcellini, Judith van Maanen and Stefy Gutovska.