Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig has criticised the disparity between the road cycling events at the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, saying it’s a “real shame” the women won’t be tackling the iconic Mount Fuji as the men will.
“They [the men] are going over Mount Fuji, which is just ‘wow’. Mount Fuji is so iconic – I feel that everyone knows Mount Fuji, and that we should not go over that…I just think it’s a real shame,” Uttrup Ludwig told an Olympic preview show on television channel Discovery+.
The men’s road race course is 234km in length, starting from Musashinonomori Park, then taking on 4,685m of climbing, including the lower slopes of Mount Fuji, before ending on the Fuji International Speedway Track.
The women, meanwhile, will utilise the same start and finish locations but bypass Mount Fuji on their 137km route, taking in 2,692m of elevation.
At the time of the parcours’ unveiling in 2018, many pro riders immediately voiced their discontent, including Annemiek van Vleuten, with Marianne Vos saying the disparity “does not signal equality”.
Uttrup Ludwig points to the 2018 World Championships Road Race as an example of what the effect of having eyecatching obstacles in the men’s race but not the women’s race can be, with the male peloton tackling the extra climb of the Gramartboden in Innsbruck, which reaches a 28 per cent gradient.
“When all the media focus was on the extraordinary [Gramartboden climb in 2018], I just think it was a pity that we women were not also allowed to climb it, because then something like this happened: [People say] women do not have the strength to get over that gradient,” Uttrup Ludwig said.
“I just think it’s a shame because then we did not get the same media focus, when all the attention was over with the gentlemen.”
The 25-year-old says it is up to riders like her to put their head above the parapet and try and change things, as other stakeholders don’t do enough to foster equality.
“I think I take responsibility for something I do not think is fair,” Uttrup Ludwig said. “Then you just have to reprimand it, because how do we change things otherwise? You have to challenge the status quo, otherwise things will not move.”