There are a lot of smart female professional cyclists out there. One of them is Marijn Devries. She turned pro relatively late compared to most, at the age of 30 – after picking up cycling by chance after she met some guys with bikes in a bar! She has got a lot of guts, isn’t afraid to voice her opinions, and between her and Emma Pooley women’s pro cycling has two really great ambassadors and spokespersons.
Her latest take on the Lance Armstrong doping story and how it affects women’s cycling:
“Yesterday I tweeted (in Dutch): Don’t panic. Clean cycling exists: it’s called women’s cycling. Boy, did I get slagged off for that. Had I gone insane? Was I that stupid? That naive? And I was obviously a liar, because all cyclists dope, including women. And no, nobody was going to believe me if I said otherwise.
Of course male sports journo’s on twitter were quick to come up with the names of the handfull of women who were caught doping. As if something like five caught individuals over, say the last decade, could ever be compared to the structural and organized use of doping in men’s cycling. But no, this doping scandal, they told me, concerns the whole cycling community. It should hurt us women as much as it hurts our male colleagues. And if I thought otherwise, I clearly didn’t have a passion for the sport, someone even dared to tell me.
Yes, this doping scandal makes me extremely sad – as the follower, viewer and fan I also am. But as a female cyclist, it mainly makes me very angry. Angry that now when the news is negative, all of a sudden people see us as ‘real’ cyclists. Normally we are just silly girls riding a bike. Sweeties who train hard and want to be athletes – but who aren’t to be taken seriously at all.
Because that’s how these same journo’s react when I write about women’s cycling on twitter. Women’s cycling? O please, they reply. That’s just a hobby. And we definitely shouldn’t call it professional; being a pro is a whole different ball game. Men’s cycling, that’s the real deal. Us women won’t ever come anywhere close to something like that.”