World's top women to compete alongside men in Solvang
The organisers of the Amgen Tour of California today announced the details of the new Women's International Time Trial Challenge, presented by Specialized and SRAM, which will take place in Solvang, California on May 20.
Twelve of the top female time trialists in the world will compete for a $10,000 prize list in the invitation-only race, which will take place on the same course upon which the men of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California will compete.
The women's event will begin at 11:30 AM, immediately before the men take to the course an hour later.
With the announcement, AEG reiterated its support for women's cycling.
"Beginning with the women's criterium race during the 2008 edition of the Amgen Tour of California, AEG has always been a supporter of women's cycling," said Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports. "We are pleased to be able to celebrate the tremendous athleticism of these world-class competitors by providing an international stage on which to showcase their ability."
The event will provide the women with a benchmark toward the national championships, 2011 World Championships and 2012 Olympic Games in one of the few top-level time trials in the USA.
Reigning Olympic gold medalist and former world champion Kristin Armstrong is expected to compete along with defending world champion Emma Pooley (Garmin-Cervélo), former world champions Amber Neben and Judith Arndt and current US Champion Evelyn Stevens, all of HTC-Highroad.
"I am honored to be one of a handful of cyclists invited to this world class event," said Armstrong. "This is a great opportunity to showcase women's cycling in America's premiere race. I can't think of a better opportunity to bring exposure and recognition to women's cycling in front of a worldwide audience."
Messick confirmed to Cyclingnews that a prior idea to base the women's prize list on how many men the riders beat had been scrapped. "We looked at a number of different options to make the event as compelling as possible and ultimately concluded that having the straight prize pool was the best way to showcase the extraordinary athleticism and talent of our female athletes."
The event takes place with the support of California bicycle maker Specialized and American component manufacturer SRAM.
"We hope to be able to build this event into a vibrant part of the Amgen Tour of California," Messick said. "We are extremely thankful to our sponsors Specialized and SRAM for continuing to help support women's cycling and for providing leadership to make this race happen."