samedi 26 juillet 2014

Honneur aux dames! Ladies first!

Dimanche, le Tour de France se terminera comme chaque année à Paris.
Mais avant que les hommes forts du cyclisme ne frottent leurs roues sur les pavés des Champs-Élysées, un événement inédit aura lieu. Pour la première fois, quelques heures avant les hommes, sur l'avenue prestigieuse, les meilleures cyclistes professionnelles féminines s'affronteront aussi devant les spectateurs du monde entier.
Nommée «La Course by le Tour de France», l'événement est présenté par la société organisatrice du Tour (ASO) comme une vitrine fabuleuse pour la promotion du cyclisme féminin, et cela sera le cas, car elle sera retransmise dans 147 pays. Toutefois, il est bon de rappeler que ni ASO ni aucune marque de cycles n'ont été à l'origine de cet événement. Il y a un an, pendant le Tour, quatre cyclistes professionnelles féminines, de renommée internationale, parmi lesquelles Marianne Vos et Emma Pooley, ont demandé à ASO la création d'un vrai Tour de France féminin. Ces sportives d'exception souhaitaient attirer l'attention sur le cyclisme féminin, qui, faute de moyens et de médiatisation, souffre depuis quelques années de voir des Grands Tours qui leur étaient dédiés disparaître. Leur demande a dans un premier temps été boudée voire même moquée, mais il en fallait plus pour les décourager. Elles ont alors pris la décision de mobiliser les réseaux sociaux avec une pétition à la clé. En à peine 48 heures, elles ont obtenu 10 000 signatures, y compris de cyclistes professionnels masculins et, aujourd'hui, elles cumulent 98 000 paraphes. Face à cette incroyable mobilisation, ASO et les marques n'ont pas pu les ignorer plus longtemps et le peloton féminin a gagné le droit de rouler sur les pavés des Champs-Élysées! Ne boudons pas aujourd'hui la récupération des marques, elle servira, il faut l'espérer, à enfin faire entrer dans la lumière, et sur la durée, le peloton féminin. Mais pour l'heure, rendons hommage à la détermination de ces sportives qui prouvent qu'en plus d'avoir les capacités physiques, elles ont aussi le mental pour rouler le temps d'un Grand Tour. Alors, honneur aux dames!

Ladies first! 

This Sunday, the Tour de France will end like every year in Paris. 
But before the strong men of cycling rub their wheels on the cobbles of the Champs-Élysées, a new event will take place. For the first time, a few hours before the men ride on the prestigious avenue, best female professional cyclists will also compete in front of the audience around the world. 

Named "La Course by Le Tour de France," the event is presented by the organizers of the Tour (ASO) as a fabulous showcase for the promotion of women's cycling, and this will be the case, as it will be broadcasted in 147 countries. However, it is worth remembering that neither ASO nor any cycling brand  have been at the origin of this event. 

There is a year ago during the Tour, four female professional cyclists, internationally renowned, including Marianne Vos and Emma Pooley, asked ASO creating a true Tour de France for women. These exceptional athletes wished to draw attention to women's cycling, which, for lack of means and media, suffers from a few years of the disappearance of their Grand Tours. 

Their request was initially rejected and even mocked, but it was not enough to discourage them. They then decided to mobilize social networks with a petition. In just 48 hours, they got 10,000 signatures, including some of male professional cyclists, and today they accumulate 98,000 signatures. Faced with this incredible mobilization, ASO and brands could not ignore them any longer and the female peloton has earned the right to ride on the cobbles of the Champs-Élysées!  Do not blame the fact that brands have decided to support the event, no matter their reasons for doing that. It will hopefully help to put light  for a long period of time on the pro female peloton. But for now, pay tribute to the determination of these athletes who prove that in addition to physical abilities, they also have the mental abilities to undergo the length of a Grand Tour. So, ladies first!

lundi 2 juin 2014

Meet Jo Hogan, The Healthy Cyclist

Bikellisima had recently the great chance to meet Jo Hogan for an interview when she was competing in Festival Elsy Jacobs in Luxembourg, a very prestigious UCI stage race for women. We speak about her achievements, her expectations and how harder it is for a woman  than for a man to be a pro cyclist.

At the Time, ASO, the firm organizing the Tour de France  just unveiled the details of La Course, a big step for women who claim to be allowed to race le Tour de France. This year, on 27th July,  a few hours before the men's peloton arrives in Paris, the world's elite women cyclists will race the circuit in the historic heart of city before fighting out a final sprint at the finish line on the Champs-Elysées.

During the interview, Jo Hogan was very enthusiastic speaking about La Course but  at the time was not sure if her team could be invited to race La Course. This week, ASO announced the names of the teams who will be part of La Course and Bigla Cycling Team, Jo's team, is on the list!

Bikellissima is looking forward to hearing about Jo's reaction. Pending, take a few minutes to learn more about Jo, a very passionnate pro cyclist...


«I developed a new sense of appreciation from being a cyclist because I had to go back to my nursing and those are two different life styles and two different worlds really, they are so far apart but I’m just grateful really to be able experiencing that kind of life.  I didn’t have a contract really until December last year so it was very light and I really didn’t think I was going to be able to come back»

You came late to pro cycling, how did you come to pro cycling?
I started cycling when I was 26, mainly for my family but my parents starting cycling, first thing my Dad who wanted to get fitter and change his lifestyle. After riding around for two years, he started racing in Australia to the State level. He is very competitive… my family is very competitive. So after that, when my Dad started, my mother started riding and she did a bit of competition as well because there is a competitive streak in our family. I have also got a brother and he also rides.

Before cycling, did you practice any other kind of sport?
Yes, a little bit of triathlon when I was at high school, at 16- 17 and then running, also in high school. Running, I did at State level at Australian level and I kind of felt that I wasn’t going to get any better and I was interested in doing a nursing degree at the time and I started to specialize in emergency nursing so was good running with my study to keep fit as well after I had stopped competing and then I started getting interested in cycling again and started doing a little bit of training and I thought I’d like to test myself and do some racing. 2008, I had some advice from some friends; I decided I would get a coach. And actually, my parents were living overseas for 6 months and I took all the money out of my bank account and bought a bike. And then from there, it just pretty much took a race start. In Australia, I did it for two years; just to strenghthen my skills and things like that. 

And you started to race as a professional in Europe in 2012?
Yes, my first year was 2011, I came over with the Australian national team, I had a scholarship with the national team, and that gave me a five-month trip with the national team for experience. We didn’t do all the big races but I raced on the Spanish tours and then, following that year, I got my first contract with Bizkaia Durango and that was 2012. At the time when I decided to come back in 2012, it was difficult because the contract wasn’t for any financial award and I had to pay for the whole season to be here.

Is it harder to race in Europe than in Australia?
Much harder, yes. We are still growing as a sport. Cycling is still growing as a sport for women in Autralia but they definitely don’t have the competitive level that we do over here.

It was no honeymoon with your previous team?
No, the first year in Europe,  I came over as a cyclist, I was not used to the different cultures and language and also, I probably wasn’t as independent as a person, just with my own confidence and I think once I came over, that started to grow but I find it really difficult to learn another language (Spanish). And initially, I had a couple of promising results and then, at the end of 2012, I was trying to decide what I wanted to do, whether I could financially afford to come back again. I’ve had the support of my family for the whole time I have been cycling.

You have to be very passionate to pursue in these conditions?
Yes, definitely. Moreover, I had a couple of crashes last year. Like this race last year, I actually didn’t finish. I had a crash and hurt my back so I came and really wanted to do well on this race but I couldn’t , couldn’t complete it so… I’m looking to do much better this time. I actually live with one of my team mates who is a fellow Australian rider, Taryn Heather, so just having that close connection with her as well and we go along really well so it’s been good, just sharing the experiences with somebody else. And I think  feeling more comfortable with myself and being happy sure lead to getting results as well.

So, you are a pro cyclist, you are in a pro team but do you have the same conditions as the male? Do you earn a living or will you have to work as a nurse when you are at the end of the season of this time, is it really good?
I do have a bit of salary . These are better conditions than I have experienced over the last two years. When I went back,  I definitely had to work straight. I was back in Australia  for four months and I spent three months working at the time, so it made it hard in a way to pay for the European season. And also, when we go back to Australia, we don’t have much time because  our national championships are in the same period so we don’t really get much of a break after the European season as we go from summer to summer so that’s difficult.But I developed a new sense of appreciation from being a cyclist because I had to go back to my nursing and those are two different life styles and two different worlds really, they are so far apart but I’m just grateful really to be able experiencing that kind of life.  I didn’t have a contract really until December last year so it was very light and I really didn’t think I was going to be able to come back.

And how long does your current contract last for?
I have got a year contract.

And you will work when you go back ? 
Yes.      In my mind I’ve already made up that I really wanted to come back again. Last year, I wasn’t so sure but this year, I feel like I’ve stepped up again within myself and with my running I knew that I was at a level that I wasn’t going to get any better but at the moment I really feel like I still can get more out of myself so I would like to have an opportunity to go back in pro cycling.

What about your living conditions, training conditions in Switzerland, is that great?
Yes, I was lucky enough to live the last two years in Gerona in Spain which is a beautiful place as well, so although many things weren’t perfect around the last couple of years, I got to live in an amazing place, with lots of cyclers, especially Australians which really makes it hard to learn another language because you are always speaking English.
In Switzerland, I live near to Zurich so it’s quite central and the scenery in that area is beautiful. I’m actually going to St Morritz to do training in a couple of weeks: I’m really looking forward to going there.

And it is good for perfect your climbing with the mountains  around you? 
Yes, I love climbing, it's my specialty!

And what are your goals for this year and after this race ?
Unfortunately, I got a little bit of a cold during the week so I am trying to stay on top of that so that I can stay well. I would really like to get top ten top five if possible, the prologue is not really my thing but the two road stages I would really like to do.

Unfortunately, Jo was too sick to be able to race until the end in Luxembourg.

And after that?
I’d like on the long term to make maybe a couple of games team in August for Autralia and the world championships.

«We should be able to continue to make steps forward to level the normal conditions of women cycling and then also step up to have the race progression . I suppose mainly those two things go hand in hand: having the recognition and the sports coverage  and to get more the public interested in women cycling and wanting to support it…»

So let’s talk about women's cycling. This week, the Société of le Tour de France announced La Course, what do you think of that, will you race it?
Unfortunately, I am not 100% sure if we will, I really would love to, I am going to get very disappointed if we don’t get invited but unfortunately only the top 10 UCI teams and the top 5 national teams get a start into the race, so at the moment, we are ranked 16  so I am not sure we are going to get invited. It is a big step forward for women cycling to have the coverage and the recognition that I think we deserve on a regular basis. This is a step forward, we will get the same prize money as the male and to get the coverage of the race all over the world is pretty spectacular so I’m really proud to be part of that.

And what is the next step? A whole Tour de France for women? A big Grand Tour?
I think we really need to take steps. This is a great step forward and a tour next year plus another race would be really good as well but I think taking a step aside from that, we need to improve the conditions for women cycling before we continue to make those steps. Obviously, there is a wide range of teams, and the budgets for women cycling… you know you’ve got the top  teams and other teams like I experienced last year. There is a massive difference in those teams and the level of support that you get. I’d say 60-70% of women riders in these teams would be running for no money. We should be able to continue to make steps forward to level the normal conditions of women cycling and then also step up to have the race progression . I suppose mainly those two things go hand in hand: having the recognition and the sports coverage  and to get more the public interested in women cycling and wanting to support it… We need to work with big businesses, that sponsor men’s cycling teams to make them branch over to women’s cycling teams, to have them running side by side. There are not many teams that have a women’s team attached to the men’s team but I think that would be a big step forward as well.

You say there is a gap between the first female UCI teams women and the other ones?
Yes, there is  definitely a gap and  the success of the team are linked with financial conditions. For me in the past, when I was worried about finances and things like that, it also starts to affect the results, if you’re not happy with what you’re doing, if there is problems within the organization and things like that, it definitely affects your performances, there is no question. So I think to improve the level across the teams, I think we need to give people that comfort that they are going to get paid at the end of the day

The president of UCI, Brian Cookson, would like to set a minimum wage for women racing in professional teams. Do you think it could be a great idea to have that?
It’s a difficult think because that might mean a lot of teams cannot continue but at the same time, I think we do need to have a standard so yes, I would agree with having a minimum wage. Especially coming from overseas, in Australia where we are away for ten months a year and you can’t support yourself on no money so it makes it really difficult for me to want to encourage other women cycling in Australia to come over and know the hardship that I have had to go through to do it and I’m lucky enough that I had the support of my family; because I know that there’s a lot of people that would really like to take that step, to take the opportunity but really can’t because of the financial constraints.

What about public opinion? Are they excited about women races?
Yes, in Australia, I get blown away with the support that I receive. Sometimes, I don’t really realize that people follow me while I am over here and I think that’s why I started the Healthy Cyclist website, the Facebook page and the Twitter account to try and keep in contact with my family and friends but it has become a bit more than that, it’s to try and advocate women’s cycling as well and to try educate and show people that you can follow what you like, follow your dreams I suppose because that’s what I’m doing.

On social networks, special webpages, a few pro women are pushing for recognition…
Yes, without them, we would be in a different situation. There is Sarah Connolly, she’s got a Twitter account, I forgot what the actual name is, but yes, she is a huge advocate of cycling. She’s always twitting about the results and it’s encouraging other… it’s a case of us encouraging each other as well. I try and get into conversation that other female cyclists have a retwitt pieces of what they have said or share things because we need to help ourselves as well: we can’t say you know “oh poor me”, we’re not on the same level as the men and we need to be able to push forward ourselves. I think that is really important as well.

In the peloton,  between racers, do you speak about what you need to do to improve media coverage?
Not really, I think, this week with the launch of La Course, a lot of people share the same thoughts and it’s been voiced for but I think we need to continue to talk to each other and try to encourage each other. I think we have some really good ladies like Marianne Vos or Emma Pooley that are ahead, trying to do that.

And you personally, what are you trying to do to raise awareness about women in pro-cycling?
I think just sharing my story about how I got into cycling and being honest and realistic about the lockers of being a pro cyclist, especially coming from Australia living without your family for 10 months of the year. I recently missed out on my best friend’s wedding and with little things like that, you realize that I have been quite far away so I’d like to help other female cyclists whether from Australia or Europe to maybe learn from some of the things that I have done or gain experience from the positive things that I have done.

«we can’t say you know “oh poor me”, we’re not on the same level as the men and we need to be able to push forward ourselves. I think that is really important as well».

Let’s go back to racing in Europe, is it really different from Australia? The wind, the cobbles, the cold?
I always explain Classic races for me are the probably most difficult races in the season because we just don’t have those kind of racing conditions in Australia, the amount of women that ride: from anywhere from 150 to 200 people would take the start line. In Australia, you know, a big bunch would be 70. I just look straight for the girls, since they’ve been riding since 05, they have the skills and the level and the strength behind them to be able to ride in a good position and to ride the cobbles. I think I’ve been happy with my progress this year since I didn’t actually do that many of those Spring classic races last year. I did a few the year before but these races are a challenge to me.
La Flèche was a very interesting race for you?
Yes, that was a big goal for the beginning of the season. I was a little bit disappointed with the result, I was hoping for a bit better but at the end of the day, I did my best and I felt like I ran a really perfect race up until the bottom of the Mur de Huy but I didn’t have quite the legs to go with the girls, so looking back, it’s so hard to watch and then know the moment when you just didn’t have enough to quite go but hopefully, that’s the start for big results to come.

You say “I’m really far from my family. How do you race thinking always about it? Is it difficult?
I don’t really get homesick that often, my coach actually used to race in Europe many years ago and they didn’t have Skype, they didn’t have social media, they didn’t have mobile phones: they had letters and things like that so I kind of count my blessings that I’m in this day and age and I have Skype . There are many different ways you can call family and friends, it just sounds like they are around the corner so I’m lucky that I have that contact.

Do you have any contact with the men BMC  team ?
Not really, we have contact a little bit with their social media: some of their results, pictures and things get shared on their social media but that ‘s all. If we could share that relationship and maybe that infrastructure, that could be a good push.

You are not sharing the same infrastructures?
No, they are very separate.

Let’s talk about recognition: the men procyclists, what do they think about women procyclists?
I’m not sure if they realize how hard it is sometimes, especially from a financial point of view and like I said, the structure in a men’s professional team and the budget allocated for that is very different to the women’s. So I think that they probably don’t realize how hard it is sometimes. I’ve got certain friends that I think realize what it’s like to be a female procyclist but others definitely have no idea. So I think, when we are educating the public, we are probably going to be educating a lot of the men’s professional teams as well. I did a bit of cycling last year with some of the men and I think they were a bit surprised of my level, so if we can keep surprising them, that would be good!

Copyright of the pictures :  Julien Garroy
 «I did a bit of cycling last year with some of the men and I think they were a bit surprised of my level, so if we can keep surprising them, that would be good!»

                                          Last details about La Course

ASO has announced the 20 teams that will take part in La Course. The one-day women’s event will take place on the Champs-Élysées ahead of the arrival of the Tour de France.

The 20 teams for La Course by Le Tour
Orica – AIS (Australia)
Equipe Nationale Australienne (Australia)
Lotto Belisol Ladies (Belgium)
Bizkaia - Durango (Spain)
Optum P/B Kelly Benefit Strategies (United States)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (United States)
Specialized - Lululemon (United States
Poitou Charentes Futuroscope 86 (France)
Equipe Nationale Française (France)
Wiggle Honda (United Kingdom)
Ale Cipollini (Italy)
Astana Bepink Womens Team (Italy)
Estado De Mexico Faren (Mexico)
Hitec Products (Norway)
Rabo Liv Women Cycling Team (Netherlands)
Boels Dolmans Cycling Team (Netherlands)
Team Giant-Shimano (Netherlands)
Equipe Nationale Hollandaise (Netherlands)
RusVelo (Russia)
Bigla Cycling Team (Switzerland)

dimanche 4 mai 2014

En attendant La Course, la vraie vie des femmes cyclistes pro

Il y a quelques mois encore, ASO, la société organisatrice du Tour de France, boudait l'initiative de quelques cyclistes professionnelles féminines, pourtant mondialement connues, qui réclamaient la tenue d'un Tour de France pour les femmes.

Mais la détermination de ces femmes et le soutien inconditionnel qu'elles ont reçu d'une partie de la communuaté cycliste internationale sur les réseaux sociaux ont eu un écho inespéré qu'ASO ne pouvait pas continuer d'ignorer. Plus de 97 000 personnes ont signé la pétition pour permettre aux femmes de courir le Tour de France et ainsi leur offrir enfin la fenêtre médiatique qu'elles méritent car elles sont tout autant cyclistes professionnelles que les hommes.

Leur acharnement  a payé et le 27 juillet prochain, elles auront l'occasion de rouler sur les pavés des Champs-Elysées quelques heures avant l'arrivée des hommes et les gagnantes auront droit aux mêmes dotations que les hommes. Ce n'est pas encore un Tour Entier mais c'est un bon début comme l'a souligné l'immense championne Marianne Vos,  qui est une des cyclistes à l'origine de cette mobilisation et qui a été invitée cette semaine par ASO à présenter officiellement La Course.

Ce qui est certain c'est que l'événement va offrir une possibilité de médiatisation inouïe aux femmes cyclistes professionnelles mais pourtant rien n'est encore gagné et la route est encore longue.

Les conditions dans lesquelles les femmes cyclistes professionnelles s'entraînent, courent sont souvent beaucoup plus dures que ce que doivent affronter les hommes car elles sont loin d'avoir les mêmes conditions financières, budgétaires et ne bénéficient pas des mêmes structures.

La plupart d 'entre elles ne vivent même pas de leur activité sportive, sont parfois obligées de travailler à côté et pourtant la passion du vélo continue de les animer et même lorsque le mauvais temps, la défaite et les chutes sont au rendez-vous, elles ne lâchent rien par passion pour leur sport et par envie de le faire mieux connaître et surtout reconnaître du grand public. Ce sont de vraies tough girls.

Alors que se tenait ce week-end au Luxembourg, la course UCI par étapes féminine Elsy Jacobs, j'ai eu la chance de m'entretenir avec la cycliste professionnelle australienne, Jo Hogan de l'équipe suisse Bigla Cycling Team. Je vous propose de lire son interview, dont une partie a été publiée dans mon journal Le Quotidien,  pour mieux comprendre à quel point ces sportives sont admirables, courageuses et pourquoi il faut à tout prix les soutenir.

La Course, en français dans le texte, sera diffusée mondialement, une vraie chance pour la médiatisation des femmes cyclistes professionnelles.

Quelques avant le prologue de la Elsy Jacobs, entretien exclusif avec la talentueuse cycliste pro australienne, Jo Hogan. (crédit photo : Julien Garroy). 

«Il y a d'énormes différences de budget»

En marge du festival Elsy Jacobs, la cycliste professionnelle australienne, Jo Hogan, dévoile le vrai visage du peloton féminin qui n'a pas fini de faire parler de lui cette année.

Alors que l'Elite mondiale du cyclisme féminin se réunit ce week-end au Luxembourg pour disputer le festival Elsy Jacobs, Le Quotidien s'est entretenu avec Jo Hogan, cycliste professionnelle au sein de l'équipe suisse Bigla Cycling Team. Agée de près 31 ans, la vice- championne d'Australie 2013 n'est professionnelle que depuis 2012 et pose un regard réaliste sur le statut du cyclisme professionnel féminin.

Les conditions de course sont-elles plus difficiles en Europe qu'en Australie? Quelle est votre sentiment après avoir couru des Classiques cette année?

Le niveau du cyclisme féminin est beaucoup plus élevé en Europe qu'en Australie où ce sport était encore récemment très peu pratiqué par les femmes. De plus, nous n'avons pas  les mêmes conditions en Australie qu'en Europe où il faut composer avec le vent mais aussi les pavés - c'est quelque chose de très spécial (rires). Les Classiques sont des courses formidables, ludiques et représentent aussi un vrai challenge. En Australie, lors d'une grande course, il y a en général 70 participantes. Là, vous vous retrouvez avec 150 ou 200 participantes qui ont toutes de grandes capacités et du talent. Les Classiques sont les courses les plus dures qui existent sur le circuit féminin mais qui vous permettent de beaucoup progresser.

Est-ce la première fois que vous venez au Luxembourg, le pays de Christine Majerus qui est actuellement dans le peloton?

Non, je suis déjà venue avec mon ancienne équipe l'année dernière. Je n'avais malheureusement pas pu finir la course car lors d'une précédente compétition, j'avais fait une chute qui m'avait blessé au dos et m'handicapait. Je suis donc ravie de revenir au pays de Christine Majerus, une cycliste que j'admire et que j'apprécie. Cette année, j'espère faire mieux et j'ai l'ambition de finir dans le top 10.
Vous abordez cette année dans de meilleures conditions au sein de l'équipe suisse Bigla.
Oui , l'année dernière était difficile puisque Bizkaia Durango a mis un terme prématurément à mon contrat, qui d'autre part était peu avantageux sur le plan financier puisque j'avais dû trouver des financements pour payer ma saison. Lors de mon retour en Australie, j'ai dû reprendre mon travail d'infirmière pour subvenir à mes besoins. Je me suis alors posée la question de savoir si je voulais continuer car c'est un coût important de venir en Europe quand vous venez d'Australie. Mais la passion était toujours là et grâce au soutien de ma famille, j'ai décidé de retenter l'aventure en signant un contrat d'un an avec Bigla.

Vous êtes cycliste professionnelle mais vous n'avez visiblement pas les pas le mêmes conditions que les cyclistes professionnels masculins?

Les conditions financières sont meilleures avec Bigla et je sens que je me m'améliore en Europe où le niveau est plus élevé qu'en Australie. Mais à la fin de la saison, je devrai retourner travailler en Australie. Ce n'est pas une mauvaise chose, ainsi lorsque je reprends mon travail d'infirmière, cela me donne l'occasion de prendre du recul et je réalise que je suis très chanceuse d'avoir aussi l'opportunité d'être cycliste professionnelle et j'oublie alors certaines choses dont je me serais plainte sans cela, pour ne garder que le meilleur.
Il y a aussi une énorme différence de budget entre les hommes et les femmes mais aussi au sein même du peloton féminin entre les 10 premières équipes UCI et les autres.

Cette année sera particulièrement importante pour l'évolution du cyclisme féminin alors que les femmes vont avoir l'opportunité de prendre le départ de La Course juste quelques heures avant l'arrivée du peloton masculin du Tour de France sur les Champs-Elysées. Serez-vous de la course ?

J'aurais adoré en faire partie mais jusqu'à présent seules les 10 premières équipes UCI et les 5 premières équipes nationales au classement mondial ont été invitées à venir or Bigla est classée 17ème pour l'instant, nous verrons si d'autres invitations seront envoyées.
Cet événement est en tout cas formidable pour accroître la reconnaissance du cyclisme féminin professionnel car la couverture médiatique sera mondiale. Cela pourrait avoir à l'avenir d'importantes répercussions en augmentant l'intérêt d'éventuels sponsors, des médias, ce qui améliorera sans doute les conditions financières des cyclistes professionnelles, qui sont près de 70% à ne pas bénéficier d'un salaire leur permettant d'en vivre pleinement. La Course est un excellent début, il faut prendre les choses étape après étape.

Le nouveau président de l'UCI, Brian Cookson, a notamment fait campagne en souhaitant mettre plus en avant le cyclisme professionnel féminin. Une de ses idées est d'offrir un salaire minimum aux femmes qui sont dans le peloton professionnel comme c'est le cas pour les hommes. Pensez-vous que c'est une bonne idée?

Mieux promouvoir le cyclisme féminin au niveau de l'UCI est une très bonne chose. En ce qui concerne le salaire minimum,  il est certain que cela permettrait à beaucoup d'équipes de continuer, il faut voir si c'est réellement la solution. Mais il est vrai que nous avons besoin d'un standard. Particulièrement pour les femmes qui courent en Europe et qui viennent de très loin, d'Australie ou des Etats-Unis, c'est en effet particulièrement difficile actuellement. Avec les salaires que leur offrent la plupart des équipes, peu d'entre elles ont les moyens d'être cyclistes professionnelles à plein temps, ce qui est décourageant et empêchent certaines femmes qui auraient les capacités physiques de le faire. De mon côté, j'ai vraiment de la chance d'avoir le soutien de ma famille. 

Au sein du peloton, parlez-vous entre vous de ce que vous devriez faire pour améliorer l'image du cyclisme professionnel féminin?

Je dirais que l'on n'évoque pas assez le sujet, il faut continuer à en parler pour faire évoluer les choses. Heureusement, on peut compter sur Marianne Vos ou Emma Pooley qui sont d'extraordinaires ambassadrices de notre cause et de vraies leaders.
Que faites-vous de votre côté pour accroître la visibilité du peloton féminin?
Je partage mon histoire avec ses mauvais comme ses bons côté sur mon blog, mon site internet et sur les réseaux sociaux. Je pense que cela est très important pour donner envie à d'autres femmes de se lancer dans l'aventure du cyclisme.

Les femmes cyclistes professionnelles ont-elles l'occasion de rencontrer, partager des entraînements avec leurs homologues masculins?

Nous avons très peu de contacts avec eux. Je trouve cela dommage. Nous n'avons en effet ni les mêmes budgets ni les mêmes infrastructures qu'eux pour s'entraîner. Il faudrait à terme voir des équipes se créer avec à la fois une section féminine et masculine ce qui permettrait de partager les infrastructures et de créer des synergies qui pourraient être bénéfiques des deux côtés.

Savez-vous ce que le peloton masculin pense du peloton féminin?

Je pense qu'un grand nombre d'entre eux ne réalisant à quel point c'est plus difficile pour nous que pour eux sur le plan financier. Mais pour avoir déjà eu l'occasion de rouler avec certains d'entre eux, je peux aussi vous dire que certains sont très surpris de notre bon niveau (rires).

Vous avez commencé le cyclisme tard, combien de temps pensez-vous continuer et quels sont vos objectifs?

J'ai commencé le cyclisme à 26 ans mais je me dis que temps que je continue à être enthousiaste et à être bien physiquement, je continuerai. Cette année, je souhaiterais faire de bons classements aux Jeux du Commonwealth ainsi qu'au championnat du monde. L'objectif de ma carrière est de pouvoir participer aux Jeux Olympiques à Rio en 2016.

Comment suivre le parcours de Jo Hogan : 

Jo Hogan est très active sur le web. Vous pouvez la retrouver derrière le pseudo Healthy Cyclist. Elle raconte régulièrement son expérience de cycliste professionnelle et donne des nouvelles de sa saison sur son site web :

En tant que sportive de haut niveau mais aussi en tant qu'infirmière, elle publie aussi régulièrement de succulentes recettes de cuisine diététiques sur sa page Facebook :

Retrouvez là enfin à chaque moment sur Twitter : @healthycyclist