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Which American women pro cyclists do men most admire? As it turns out, many.

March 23, 2014

Emily Kachorek, 15th at 2013 cyclocross nationals

Emily Kachorek, 15th at 2013 cyclocross nationals

[updated 3/24/2013]

Ask men which active American female pro cyclist they most admire and you’ll need more than one hand to count the names on.

In an informal survey conducted via Twitter and Facebook, 24 guys responded to the question – the intention was to generate thought and discussion, not a statistically valid sample. A few respondents found it difficult to choose just one rider and named several. The resulting list of athletes is long enough to form three teams.

The two women named the most frequently were Evelyn Stevens (Specialized-lululemon) and Katie Compton (Trek Cyclocross Collective).

Mo Bruno Roy winning the 2013 cyclocross single speed national title

Mo Bruno Roy winning the 2013 cyclocross single speed national title

Sarah Hammer (Twenty16), Laura Van Gilder (Van Dessel), Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon), and Maureen Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) received more than one shout-out. So did Helen Wyman (Kona Factory Team), the eight-time British cyclocross champion who likes racing in the US.

Sixteen additional women were mentioned. UnitedHealthcare’s Cari Higgins, Mara Abbott, Alison Powers, and Alexis Ryan. BMX national champion Alise Post (Redline). Vanderkitten’s Amy Charity and Emily Kachorek. Pan Am Continental track champion Beth Newell. Jade Wilcoxson and Amber Pierce on Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. Ali Tetrick (Twenty16). Filmmaker Kathryn Bertine (SKN). Mountain bikers Chloe Woodruff (Backcountry Bike Team), Heather Irmiger (Trek Factory Racing), Sonia Looney (Topeak Ergon) and Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team).

A handful of women decided to weigh in with their favorite pros too. One additional name that popped up was Nicole Duke as an example of women who race and mother.

Carmen Small, 2nd at the 2012 Boulder Cup

Carmen Small, 2nd at the 2012 Boulder Cup

Why did such a long list emerge? Is it because America’s talent pool is deep? Do many women pro cyclists have exceptional, unique stories – like this one about Small and how she’s helping to raise her sister’s kids?

Or is it because, as professional photographer Dejan Smaic suggests, these women all possess a similar quality?

Dejan Smaic

Dejan Smaic

“Where do you start? Each professional female cyclist I know has unique individual qualities I admire,” Smaic wrote. “But, the one thing I do consider a rare quality, but common in each, is the sacrifice and commitment made by each one of them to get to where they are now. Following their passion and heart to reach the pinnacle of their physical and mental ability, and the drive.”

Like Smaic, a couple of others declined to respond to the question; they respect every rider and couldn’t choose only one.


One reader suggested having respondents include why they admire the riders they named. For sure that would enrich this piece and help others learn about these riders’ accomplishments. He mentioned Beth Newell, he said, because she made a dream come true by launching Keirin Cut Jeans. Newell has designed jeans that fit athletes with well-developed quads, such as track racers – hence the name.

From → Women's Cycling

  1. Thank you for including me in the article! Always hoping to inspire and encourage! Thanks!

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