Women gravel racers call for a race of their own as Life Time decides to not implement drafting rules

“I feel like at the end of the day it’s just a logistical inconvenience to give the women the race we deserve,” says Sofia Villafañe

Scenes from the 2021 Unbound Gravel Race
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In an email to Life Time Grand Prix athletes, the race series organizers announced that a no-drafting rule will not be implemented this year.

In gravel racing, the men’s and women’s fields, elite and amateur alike, all tackle the race course around the same time. This has led to several issues and controversies, particularly for the women’s pro field. For one, the starting frenzy and mingling fields mean that the riders have to navigate heavy traffic before they can race their own race. Secondly, because inter-field drafting is legal, some women riders have capitalized on the presence of male riders to gain an advantage.

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Anne-Marije Rook
North American Editor

Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.

Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist. She's now been a cycling journalist for 11 years.