For fans of women’s racing, 2021 seems to have marked a turning point. From the announcement of the inaugural women’s Paris-Roubaix, to Pulse Media Group committing 30 minutes of live coverage of this year’s Giro Rosa, huge strides are being taken towards giving women’s racing the audience it deserves.
Women’s racing proponents have been fighting for years to level the playing field, and while we still have a way to go, it’s important to celebrate the wins when they come, as well as the powerful women and brands pushing for much needed-change.
One such brand is Liv Cycling. This year more than ever cements its breakaway from its Liv/Giant roots to stand alone as an important proponent for gender parity in the sport, making history in more ways than one.
As the world’s first women’s specific cycling brand, and still a huge pioneer of women-first design, engineering and manufacturing, Liv Cycling has seen an upward trajectory over the past 13 years that parallels the rising popularity of, and positive developments in, women’s pro racing.
Here we take a look at the brand’s history, its connection to Giant, and how it broke free of its sub-brand status to stand alone in this year’s WorldTour without its sibling.
2008: Giant gains a sister
Launch of Liv/Giant
Liv Cycling’s humble beginnings go back to 2008 when Giant launched its Liv/Giant sub-brand to focus exclusively on the female cycling market. Bonnie Tu, Giant Group’s Chairperson and founder of Liv/Giant, set out to produce bikes and cycling gear made specifically for women, having struggled herself to find what worked well for her.
Liv/Giant was a world first: a comprehensive women’s specific cycling brand, which not only produced bikes, clothing and accessories for women, by women, in-house from start to finish, but also set out to make cycling more inclusive for women everywhere. What started as a sub-brand, or sister-brand as it’s more lovingly labelled, has since become a women’s cycling powerhouse in both product development and pro racing.
2014: Rebranding and racing to victory
Liv/Giant is rebranded to Liv Cycling
In 2014, Giant announced that it was re-branding Liv/Giant to Liv, in order to help differentiate the two brands and emphasising the concept of ‘designed by women for women’.
More than being just the female branch of Giant, Liv was pioneering women’s bike design and engineering, using female-only body dimensions data to design all of its products from the ground up, including bike geometry, carbon layup and suspension tuning. Using completely separate moulds and designs from Giant-branded products, Liv gained an identity of its own and even introduced its own dedicated Liv stores.
Vos wins La Course for Rabobank-Liv cycling team
2014 saw the inaugural La Course, a one-day elite women’s race that took place before the 21st stage of the Tour de France. It comprised 13 laps of the Champs-Élysées in Paris, totalling 89km. Marianne Vos, representing Rabobank-Liv racing team, raced her Liv bike to victory, beating Kirsten Wild (Giant-Shimano) and Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits).
2018: Equal salaries and an anniversary
Liv celebrates its tenth anniversary
2018 marked the ten-year anniversary of Giant’s commitment to producing a women’s specific range of bikes, clothes and accessories. Liv celebrated its tenth birthday by reigniting its ‘How We Liv’ campaign from the previous year, which invited women to share their cycling experiences and become part of a rapidly growing global movement.
Multiple commitments made to equal salaries
2018 saw several commitments to raising women’s salaries and peloton prize pots to equal those of men. The UCI announced its new two-tiered system with an enforced minimum salary of €30,855 set to be in place by 2023, equalling the men’s Pro Continental level. This same year saw the prize money for the OVO Energy Women’s Tour almost triple from €35,000 to €90,000, equalling the prize money for the Tour of Britain, while the South Australian government announced it would secure equal pay for both the Santos Women’s Tour and Tour Down Under pelotons.
2020: Liv Committed and podium change
‘Liv Committed’ campaign launches
Despite the many challenges that came with 2020, Liv launched its ‘Liv Committed’ campaign, which sought to highlight the transformative power of cycling, as well as the brand’s commitment to gender parity. The campaign elevated much-needed conversations around the sport’s racial disparity, as well as the disproportionate number of women and girls participating in cycling.
Tour de France no longer using ‘podium girls’
After several years of campaigners denouncing the use of ‘podium girls’ to assist — and kiss — stage winners. ASO announced that the Tour de France would no longer continue the practice, replacing the ‘girls’ with one male and one female host to help stage winners with podium protocols.
2021: Making history and looking forward
Commitment to live coverage of the Giro Rosa
Earlier this month, Pulse Media Group, the organisers of the Giro Rosa, announced its commitment to providing 30 minutes of live television coverage for each stage of this year’s 10-day race. The broadcast will include footage from two motorcycles, a helicopter, and five telecameras.
Ayesha McGowan becomes the first African American woman in the UCI pro peloton
Earlier this year, Ayesha McGowan made history by becoming the first African American woman to join Liv Racing’s top-tier team as a trainee satellite rider. McGowan, who set herself this very goal back in 2015, will aim to begin racing after August 1.
Liv remains a WorldTour presence while Giant is absent for the first time since the 90s
2021 sees a WorldTour development that highlights Liv’s breakaway from its identity as Giant’s sister-brand, truly standing independent. For the first time since the turn of the century, there will be no appearance of Giant bicycles anywhere within the men’s pro peloton, whereas Liv Racing retains its presence.
The new Langma is here
With plenty of exciting things to look forward to, Liv just launched its second generation Langma Disc for 2022, built to be lighter, faster and more responsive. As an all-round performance bike that excels on climbs, the brand new Langma Disc features the latest evolution of aero tubing and custom touchpoints, resulting in the fastest, most responsive road bike in the Liv lineup. Three series of Langma Disc have been added to the lineup, topped by the premium Langma Advanced SL Disc model, followed by the Langma Advanced Pro Disc and Langma Advanced Disc series.
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