I’ve been hearing a bit more grumbling going around about one female gravel racer in particular, Lauren DeCrescenzo and her use of male riders to help her gain victories (most recently SBT GRVL). There might be others, but she has clearly had the most success.
What do others think about this topic? It is interesting that most athletes want to continue with the mass start so there will always be men and women working together, but I guess what people are most upset about is the use of male domestiques in the female competition. It is kind of a fine line, they’re not against women sitting in a bunch with male riders but questions do come up once there is a whole team of men dedicated to support a female rider.
I watched Unbound 2021 and saw that DeCrescenzo teamed up with one to two other male riders about 3/4 of the way through the race, from what you could see on film she did very little pulling for quite a long time (I could have the wrong perception here but that is what I could see), then near the end of the course she sped up and biked on her own to a win. It looked like she really benefited from that happenstance of finding a couple of strong men to ride with but it also just seemed like it was just happenstance, in an interview afterwards she admitted that she didn’t even know the fellow’s name who had helped her to victory. I’m not sure how this could be monitored or if other female cyclists would have done something differently.
At SBT GRVL, I was not watching what happened but she was with a whole team (all men) who at different parts of the race assisted her, by stopping at the water stops for her so she could sail through, and by cycling with her at points to help her out. I assume this is what makes most women upset, if she had all female teammates that could do this that would potentially be awesome (although not sure how many women could keep up who weren’t also interested in winning themselves), but to have men involved in the women’s race feels weird.
I’m interested in other people’s thoughts on this, I don’t think she has broken any rules but it has made people unhappy which suggests this might no be ok for much longer.