Can British time trialling accommodate a sudden influx of women newcomers, or will many of those who have signed up to the new South East Women’s Time Trial Series end up without a ride due to a system of entry limitation that favours men?

Despite the discipline’s governing body, Cycling Time Trials, passing a proposal in December to reserve 20 per cent of an oversubscribed field for women, SEWTTS organiser Rebecca Slack still foresees a problem if the 100 women signed up for her new 2014 series, that uses existing CTT events as its qualifiers, all enter the same event.

The field for a time trial is selected by entrants’ best time at the distance recorded during the current and past three years – regardless of gender. This means that, in an oversubscribed event, up to four times more men than women will get a ride after the 20 per cent rule is applied.

“If the demand [from women] can’t be met within the existing CTT framework then changes have to be made,” said Slack.

“This could be asking for greater allocation of places for women within the events on the calendar. I think across the board women ought to be entitled to 50 per cent of starts.

“I didn’t know what the demand was going to be, so there’s no way I could say I want women’s dedicated races because there are some women’s dedicated races already that are only getting a handful of people,” Slack said. “I just hope CTT are going to work with me on this one to make sure the women who have entered my series are going to get a ride.”

This article was first published in the December 12 issue of Cycling Weekly. Read Cycling Weekly magazine on the day of release where ever you are in the world International digital edition, UK digital edition. And if you like us, rate us!

  • Robert

    I would agree that the number of places available should reflect the overall number of competitors, and on that basis reserving even 20% of places for female competitors discriminates against male riders. On the other hand, basing entries on the overall number of competitors would not allow for local variations. Perhaps a system could be set up whereby female competitors are given a time allowance, with say 10% being removed from their times and then all entries, both male and female, selected on the basis of these times. This would ensure that entries are still based on (relative) merit and would avoid the situation where poorly performing female competitors are give places in preference to much more competitive male riders simply because they are female. Of course, such an allowance system would still constitute a form of discrimination in favour of female competitors, so to be totally fair perhaps a similar ‘allowance based’ system could be introduced across the board, so that vets, ‘long markers’ and so forth are also given a chance to ride the most popular events. Or perhaps the system should remain as it is and those dedicated to promoting the women’s side of the sport could look to organising more events. That does not seem to figure in the plans of Ms Slack makes me wonder if the whole SEWTTS series is actually a strategem, designed to allow her to claim half of the places in all the most popular events on behalf of female riders.

  • Jon

    I’m neither a frequent time triallist nor a woman, but how about basing allocation on demand for each TT rather than a fixed percentage?
    For example if an event has 60% of entries from one gender and 40% of another, why not allocate places in the same proportion?
    It would be simple to apply and I can’t think of a fairer method other than letting everyone ride.

  • Teddy

    “I think across the board women ought to be entitled to 50 per cent of starts”
    i think across the board women ought to be entitled to the percentage of starts that there are percentage of women entering TTs as a whole… getting ready to get knocked down…but surley its not fair on men who enter otherwise?

  • Robert

    Surely, the entry system does not ‘favour men’ per se? Rather, it simply favours the riders who do the fastest times. It is all well and good saying that half of the places in events should be reserved for female competitors, but this takes no account of the relative numbers of competitors of each gender and would lead to a situation where many hundreds of male competitors would be competing for the same number of entry places as a few dozen female competitors. The end result would be that only the elite men would get to ride the most popular events, but almost any female competitor who could be bothered to fill in an entry form! Perhaps the SEWTTS series should be based on performances in those dedicated female only events that currently only attract ‘a handful of people’. These would then suddenly have ‘100’ competitors and everybody would benefit.