Le cyclisme au féminin
THE REVOLUTIONARIES OF WOMEN'S CYCLINGEcrit par 06.05.2020
*****ELSY JACOBS Luxembourger 1933-1998
Elsy Jacobs has more than once written the history of women's cycling with numerous records and victories.
In 1957, for example, she took part in 42 events and was on the podium 38 times, almost one clear round! Example number 2: a total of 1059 races in her career, in different disciplines (from the road to track to cyclo-cross). A very great career comparable with one of her greatest "rival" Beryl Burton. In 1958 the first women's world championship was organized in France (in Reims). Guess who won it? Elsy Jacobs! Spectators tell that once she had savored victory, she quickly ran to the finish line to cheer on her rivals - just like Wilma's team spirit 😍- To think that the cycling press was expecting a flop from this first championship... Determined and with her strong character, she immediately became popular in the field and made a name for herself with race organizers. She took advantage of this opportunity (and she is quite right) to negotiate her contracts and premiums upwards. Thanks to her efforts, she became one of the few women who could make a living from her passion for cycling. She moved to Paris to live closer to her races and continue to make cycling her life. Her feat in 1958 brought more consideration to women's cycling (at least in Luxembourg) as a national championship was organized. A championship in which Elsy of course took part and won 13 times. In 2008 the Grand Prix Jacobs (or Festival Elsy Jacobs) was created in her honor. It is a women's cycling stage race held in Luxembourg for amateurs.
*****CONNIE CARPENTER-PHILEY American, 1957
Connie, a great sportswoman, began to excel in figure skating. In 1972 (at the age of 14) she competed in the Winter Olympics and placed 7th. Her skating career ended a few years later due to an ankle injury. As she was already doing a bit of cycling between skating seasons, she turned to this sport. She began her cycling career as a silver medallist in 1977 at the road world championships, bronze medallist in 1981, and then world champion in 1983 (in track pursuit). In 1984 the first women's cycling event was held at the Los Angeles Olympic Games. We would like to thank Eileen Gray for her contribution :) That year she was thinking about retiring but she postponed it because she absolutely wanted to do this first event. She did well to postpone her career until after the race as she won the event and thus became the first Olympic cycling champion. In front of her compatriots Rebecca Twigg and Sandra Schumacher. “What I really like about cycling is that you fall down and still win the race…which I did a few times.” Her life after retirement has been centered on family life, she is the mother of two athletes (Taylor Phinney: junior champion in pursuit and time trial and Kelsey Phinney: Nordic skiing at a high level). Today, the former athlete shares her experiences on women's cycling in written and spoken form. She is an author, an artist, and an entrepreneur (yes yes all of the above!), she continues to ride a bike that she believes is a way to live better.
*****MARIANNE MARTIN American, 1957
Like Connie, Marianne didn't start out on the bike, she's a former runner who injured her back. She turned her injury into a strength by seeing the pain as a positive and therefore fought hard to reach a high level in cycling. Marianne wanted to do the Tour de France at all costs, so she reviewed and adapted all her training to her illness (anemia), to preserve her health and strength. To do this, she has made a big place to rest in her training. Her work and efforts paid off as she was first taken on the US national team for the women's Tour de France. Tour de France, which she later won! Her career is remarkable and she has proven that women are capable of doing great stage races like the Tour de France. "The Tour really taught me that we can do so much more than we think we can » Today Marianne no longer rides a bike but a horse, a sport she particularly likes and which reminds her of cycling. With her experience, she believes very much in the benefits of sport on people and health. If you want to know more about Marianne Martin, you can watch this video interview here.
Small return/focus on the Tour de France Feminin: With 18 stages, it was the longest women's race ever organized. Great admiration and inspiration for many women cyclists and great interest from the press. Unfortunately, it didn't last very long. In 1984 it was put on the back burner by the press, especially for the Olympic Games. From 1989 onwards: decline with fewer and fewer stages and fewer and fewer participants. In 2004, it was abandoned. Attempts were made to restart but the race was never again as successful as it was in the 1980s. This reflects many of the problems facing women's cycling: not enough media coverage, money, sponsors, sexism, and many others.
About that Marianne Martin thinks money is the answer: “If you can find the money, they’ll let you put the bike race on". I won $1,000 at the Tour and had to share that with my team. I paid for my own flight to New York, to get to Paris. I funded everything myself, bought my own bikes, got into debt to fund my career.”
*****JEANNIE LONGO, French 1958
Exceptional sporting longevity: with a record of 59 national titles, 13 world championship titles, and 1 Olympic title!
At only 20 years old, she started competing in cycling and at 21, she was a French road champion.
This is only the beginning of this reference in women's cycling.
On 26 October 1996 in Mexico City, with 48.159 km over one hour, she beat the best UCI women's time trial performance to date, which remains unequaled.
Jeannie Longo is one of the first French women to make a living from her passion thanks to sponsors.
In 2011, when she was elected the favorite sportswoman of the French, she won her last French Time Trial Championship.
Today, at the age of 61 and after a 40-year career, she still does a bit of cycling for fun and participates in a few races.