A big increase in the number of female cyclists to compete in future Olympics

The changes will see an increase in the number of places for women in the road events

(Image credit: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

For the first ever time, an equal number of female and male cyclists will compete at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

The UCI and the IOC, the organisation that oversees the Olympics, announced on Monday that the changes will begin in three years’ time, but will not apply to the reschedule Tokyo Olympics, now set to take place in the summer of 2021.

Gender parity has been an aim for cycling’s governing body in recent years, and will be achieved by a reduction in the number of places for male riders.

257 men and women will head to Paris, as opposed to the Tokyo numbers of 299 and 229.

Of the five disciplines at the Games – road, track, mountain bike, BMX and BMX freestyle park – road and track will account for 386 of the 528 cyclists set to take place in Tokyo, with the former tallying 197.

In Japan, 130 male riders will be in the road race peloton with some competing in the time trial, while the figure for women is 67. In Paris, those numbers will alter significantly: 90 men and women.

Although no announcement has been made on what team sizes will therefore look like in the road race, it is expected that a country’s allocation in the men’s race will be capped at four or three, as opposed to the current five. The current women’s limit is three, and this may increase to four.

The numbers represent a big difference with previous Games, with Atlanta 1996 hosting 184 male riders in road events, while women’s road cycling was only introduced at Los Angeles 1984, when 45 competitors debuted.

Track won’t see quite as a big an overhaul. The number of men will reduce from 98 to 95, while sports for women rise from 91 to 95.

There is already the same number of male and female athletes set to compete in the three other cycling disciplines.

“Gender parity at the Olympic Games Paris 2024 sends out a strong message to our athletes and society as a whole,” UCI president David Lappartient said.

“The UCI is committed to a policy of equal representation of women and men both on the field of play and in governance.

"Following the introduction of a minimum salary for professional women riders, among other developments, this is another big step forward that does justice to our federation and our sport and of which I am especially proud.”

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