Sheffield cyclist completes Tour de France style challenge in fight for gender equality

An amateur cyclist from Sheffield has ridden the same distance and elevation as the Tour de France to highlight gender inequality in the sport.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 7:00 am

Jess Fawcett, who now lives in Edale, is a member of the worldwide InternationElles group of female riders who were prevented from travelling abroad by the Covid-19 pandemic to ride the Tour de France route one day ahead of the men.

Instead, the 10-strong team from the UK, Netherlands, USA and Australia embarked on a different challenge, starting with a non-stop team relay of 3,484km from home on static bikes over four days.

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Jess Fawcett was part of the InternationElles who took part in the Tour de France style challenge to fight for gender equality in the sport

Jess and the four other UK-based riders then took on the Everesting challenge, climbing 8,848 metres - the equivalent height of Mount Everest – in 18 hours on the Bwlch in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, each rider climbing 27 times with rules stating they had to complete it in a single attempt with no sleep allowed.

In doing so they joined a group of only 446 female riders from around the world who have successfully completed this feat of stamina and perseverance.

As co-founder of a women’s cycling charity, Jess battles hard for equality and says it was one of the reasons she joined the InternationElles.

"I just want for the world of sport to buck its ideas up about women,” Jess, a communications freelancer, said.

The five UK-based riders completed the Everesting challenge on the Bwlch, Rhondda Valley’s second-category climb, in South Wales (Photo Credit: George Galbraith)

"I get angry at how women are neglected in the media, how they often get paid far less than their male counterparts.

"Often they’re objectified rather than respected for what they can do and I feel strongly about that in all sports.

"Currently the Tour de France is on and it’s screened every day on TV, everyone in the world can watch it and at the same time the biggest race in the women’s calendar is on, the Giro Rosa, but you can’t even watch it online.

"There’s no coverage, occasionally little highlight packages on the internet but if you don’t know where they are you won’t see it.

The five UK-based InternationElles climbed 8,848 metres - the equivalent height of Mount Everest - in just 18 hours (Photo Credit: George Galbraith)

"I know what women are capable of. I’ve been lucky to be able to do sport and have these opportunities and I want them to be available to everyone.”

The InternationElles are hoping to galvanise the global cycling community in support of their cause. For more information visit www.skoda.co.uk/thisisourtime.

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The five UK based InternationElles. Left to Right: Jess Fawcett, Jules Cass, Rhian Denton, Louise Gibson & Lucy Ritchie (Photo Credit: George Galbraith)

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