Lizzie Armitstead has called for the Tour de Yorkshire women’s race to be increased to three days in future as it was announced today that the world champion would take part in the 2016 women’s race, which starts in her hometown of Otley.
Speaking in York three days after successfully defending her title at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, Armitstead welcomed the upgraded one-day women’s event which features a total prize fund of £50,000, is ranked UCI 1.2 and takes place on the same 135km course as the men’s race.
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“I think the way forward is three days and hopefully that will happen in the future but I’d like to support the fact that there is a proper stage this year,” she said.
The stage from Otley to Doncaster on April 30 will take place ahead of stage two of the three-day men’s Tour de Yorkshire, with live broadcast on ITV and Eurosport.
Armitstead described last year’s women’s race, a non-UCI ranked circuit race around York city centre won by Louise Mahé, as a ‘token event.’
Watch: Women’s WorldTour contenders for 2016
“If I’m totally honest I think that’s what last year’s race was, just a token event. It’s good to see that this year they’re doing it properly, putting equal prize money out there and inviting all the best teams, getting UCI status,” she said.
“If you’re going to do the job, do it properly, and that’s what they’re doing this year.”
Armitstead praised the prize money available for the race, with the £15,000 prize going to the winner making it the highest in women’s cycling and outstripping the total on offer if a male rider were to win all three stages and the overall in the men’s event.
However the 27-year-old warned against seeing increasing prize money as a grand solution for improving women’s cycling.
“There are so many things we need before we have equal prize money. I don’t want races to be put off inviting me because they don’t have £15,000 if I win it,” she said.
“I’d rather have the opportunity to race up the Cauberg [in a women’s Amstel Gold]. That’s what I would like and I think those steps should be first in women’s cycling.”