Norwegian race halted by rider protest

Anger as Norwegian Cycling Federation fails to fill its Women’s World Championship quota

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Riders at a national women’s race in Norway protested on Sunday, following a selection decision by the national federation for the World Championships. Though allotted five places in the women’s road race, the Norges Cykleforbund have only selected three riders, with no time trial or junior representation.

All 50 riders taking part in round five of the Norges Cup near Stavanger, signed a letter calling on the Federation to change its mind. Not satisfied they had made their point, the peloton then turned to direct action, stopping the race after only 50 metres, before resuming a minute later.

This year is the first time Norway team have qualified five riders for the women’s elite road race, a development largely fuelled by the Norwegian registered Hitec Products UCI team.

“There is no problem with the three girls they are sending,” Hitec team manager Karl Lima told Cycling Weekly. “The Norwegian Federation have always filled their quota and it was felt that this is their policy.

“They say they selected the three youngest ones because they want to plan for the future, but then they don’t send any junior women, which in our opinion is proof of the opposite.”

Not only has the road race quota not been met, there will be no Norwegian women in the time trial.

“They’re not sending women because they have no chance of being top ten. That’s probably true, but our argument is that our women are much closer to [current World Champion] Ellen van Dijk than the Norwegian men are to Tony Martin. I’m not opposed to sending the men, but they are applying different criteria to the women.”

The Norwegian Federation decision has parallels in the UK after the British Cycling opted not to enter the Women’s Individual Time Trial. Despite a number of candidates who may have benefitted form the experience, BC justified their decision stating none of those available would be able to win.

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