An Inverurie cyclist is preparing to take on the world’s most gruelling and famous bike race to raise awareness of gender equality in cycling.
Lucy Ritchie, from the Inverurie cycling club Team Ecosse Northboats (TEN) is preparing to join female cyclists from around the world to pedal the entirety of the Tour De France route – one day ahead of the men’s professional race.
Over 21 days, Ms Ritchie will join the other women bikers in team InternationalElles to ride 3,460km (2,150 miles) across France.
She is the only Scottish cyclist on the team of women from the UK, Austrailia, Ireland, America, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
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Ms Ritchie, originally from Stonehaven, is taking on the challenge to highlight the lack of equality in the sport – as there is currently no women’s equivalent of the Tour De France.
Ms Ritchie said: “Obviously there are physical differences between men and women, but both have strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s about creating a balance, but we can’t do that unless women have the same opportunities as men.
“For me, this challenge goes beyond cycling and I want to make sure future generations have the same opportunity in whatever they choose to pursue.
“We are self-funded, but our overriding mission is to cycle for equality, raise awareness and encourage all genders and ages to take up cycling.”
She will be joined in her journey to France by Pete Lowson, the founder of the TEN cycling club.
Mr Lawson will briefly meet his fellow club member Ms Ritchie when she speeds through the spa town of Bagneres-de-Bigorre in the French Pyrenees, the twin town of Inverurie and part of the 12th stage of the annual Tour De France.
He said: “Lucy is one of our most committed and successful members and I am delighted that she and I will be meeting up in Bagneres-de-Bigorre next month at the finish of what is sure to be another challenging day on the long road to Paris, for all the women in the InternationElles team.
“We are enormously proud of her and what she is doing to promote gender equality in cycling, a sport which still has much to do to change its traditionally overwhelmingly male attitudes.
“We hope her mammoth effort will go a long way to prove just how good women cyclists are and to finally readdress the balance.”
The InternationElles team will depart Brussels on July 5 and arrive in Paris on July 27.