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'Women fight just as hard for victory' - SBT GRVL ensures equal gender prize money

Sarah Sturm races in the 2019 Steamboat Gravel cycling race held near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Sarah placed 3rd in the event.
(Image credit: SBT GRVL)

SBT GRVL, one of the premier gravel races in the United States of America has taken the decision to split their prize purse equally between male and female competitors in 2021.

The event, which is set to take place in Steamboat Springs on August 15, 2021, has attracted 3,000 entries with a stellar line up of professional riders expected, including former WorldTour riders Peter Stetina, Jacob Rathe, Alison Tetrick, Lauren Stephens, and Laurens ten Dam. Whitney Alison, Lex Albrecht, Kaysee Armstrong, Sarah Sturm, Sarah Max, Lauren De Crescenzo, Emily Newsom, Colin Strickland, and former Olympian Geoff Kabush are also expected to race.

Amy Charity, from SBT GRVL told Cyclingnews that the event's long-term aim was to achieve a 50-50 split between male and female entries and that next year's $22,000 prize fund would be split down the middle across the professional field.

"Historically, cycling has been a male-dominated sport and prize purses have traditionally been larger for men. Much of the status quo has been steeped by tradition. SBT GRVL realized that as race promoters, we are in a position to change this tradition by investing equally in women and men. This is one way that we can influence gender equality in cycling and gravel is leading the way," Charity said.

"It should be very simple, the distances are the same in a mass start event.  A win is equally fought for and so the prize purse should be equal. As an example, Brodie Chapman finished SBT GRVL BLACK, a distance of 144 miles), averaging 20.3mph in six hours and 56 minutes, which is on par with some of the fastest men's times."

The SBT GRVL race launched in 2019 but saw its 2020 event postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The event caters to a mix of abilities with several possible distances for entrants to compete in. Along with providing equal prize money, the event is also partnering with Ride For Racial Justice in order to provide better race access for BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) entrants next year.

The initiative secures 25 guaranteed race spots and also covers race entry fees, financial assistance to each of the 25 athletes to help cover costs related to transportation, lodging, coaching services, mentorship, and gear to compete in the race.