InternationElles raise awareness of gender inequality

September 15, 2020
Global pandemic will not halt the campaign for a women’s Tour de France and to close the gender gap

The InternationElles, an international group of amateur women cyclists, have juggled full-time work, family lives and extensive training regimes to complete an epic six-day challenge to raise awareness of gender inequality in cycling.

The 10 riders, who are spread across the UK, Netherlands, USA and Australia, were prevented from travelling to France by the Covid-19 pandemic to ride the Tour de France one day ahead of the men and required a plan B.

They first completed a four-day, non-stop team relay of 3,484km from home on static bikes. The five UK-based riders then took on the infamous Everesting challenge, climbing the full 8,848 metres of Mount Everest in just 18 hours on Friday 4 September.

The ascent of the Bwlch, Rhondda Valley’s second-category climb, represents 339m of elevation at an average gradient of 5% and each rider climbed it a staggering 27 times.


InternationElle Louise Gibson comments: “We’re thrilled to have completed the challenge, the Tour de France distance relay was tough, but we were able to complete it as a team. The Everesting was one of the most incredible days I’ve had on my bicycle and I’m so proud all five of our UK-based riders as managed to complete it together. The climb was amazing and the weather was on our side. I’m delighted that even though we weren’t able to go to France we were able to keep the conversation going about gender inequality in cycling.”

Gibson continues: “Our challenge has coincided with exciting indications that a women’s stage race will take place in France in 2022 and we await a full announcement with great anticipation. While it is certainly a step in the right direction the InternationElles campaign has always been more than just a women’s Tour de France and we will continue to keep the pressure on for more developments within women's cycling to try and close the gender gap.”

Louise, a global events manager from Marlow was joined in Wales by Lucy Ritchie, a business opportunity manager from Aberdeen and Jess Fawcett, a communications freelancer from Edale in the Peak District. Rhian Denton, a talent acquisition manager and Jules Cass, a physiotherapist, who are both from South West London, completed the Everesting team.

InternationElle Carmen Acampo successfully Everested in The Netherlands with 66 repetitions of the Camerig, a fourth-category climb. Julie-Anne Hazlett, in Australia, and Heather Sawtelle, in the USA, both Everested from home with eight repetitions on the Alpe du Zwift, a virtual hors categorie climb.

The InternationElles are supported by ŠKODA, whose cycling ambassador Dame Sarah Storey is in awe of the efforts being undertaken by the group. She comments: “The InternationElles are truly amazing! To follow the Tour de France relay with 9,000m of climbing in a single day is superhuman! What was most impressive was their camaraderie and support for each other despite the fact they each must have been utterly exhausted! A global pandemic was not going to stop them shining a light on the continued inequalities in cycling and show what female cyclists are capable of. Thanks to their efforts progress continues to be made in reaching that goal of equal pay and race opportunities. I’m so proud to work alongside them and with the support of ŠKODA we are changing perceptions and bringing new voices out in support.”

The InternationElles are looking to galvanise the global cycling community in support of their cause and have created the opportunity for everyone to join in and show support by visiting www.skoda.co.uk/thisisourtime

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