Men have traditionally been offered larger prize purses and an end of racing schedule prime time slot but that trend has begun to shift in recent years. The organisers of the Grant Park Criterium have gone one step further from parity, offering women four times as much as men and giving them the marquee time slot for the Atlanta race's 16th edition on August 22.
The Grant Park Criterium follows one day after the nearby Athens Twilight Criterium and has attracted an elite start list, with L39ION's Kendall Ryan and Skylar Schneider, multi-time national champion Tina Pic and her Colavita/HelloFresh Women's Pro Cycling teammate Christina Gokey Smith expected to line up for their part of a $20,000 prize purse.
The prize structure has not deterred the men's field, which has a robust list of entrants including Oscar Sevilla's Team Medellin.
The race will also be a part of the Speed Week series - eight different events kicking off on August 20 with the Spartanburg Crit, and continuing at Athens, Grant Park, and Springfield, Georgia, Walterboro, South Carolina, and La Grange, Hapeville, and College Park in Georgia.
Putting the women at the end of the programme was an "intentional statement by the team" - the L5 Flyers, led by amateur racer Stacy Robinson.
"The L5 Flyers are confronting an abiding problem in cycling: disinterest in the sport among female athletes," the press release stated. "With small turnouts, organizers have been forced to combine fields, resulting in less compelling races and a lack of enthusiasm among potential female competitors.
"We want more ladies putting a foot down at the starting line, so we want to increase the visibility of their events. We have daughters who race and we want more girls racing! So far, the Grant Park crit has drawn commitments from some of the most skilled, powerful and fastest women in the country. When the whistle blows, the L5 Flyers will be initiating a new tradition in pro cycling."
Other events in the Speed Week series are offering equal prize money for men and women, with Athens Twilight's purse set at $5,900 for each fields.
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!
Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.