Flanders Classics announced more progress today in its ongoing mission to support women’s cycling. The Belgian race organizer brought Specialized into its advocacy plans, partnering with the brand to advance its Closing the Gap program.
Flanders Classics launched Closing the Gap with help from KPMG in 2019. Its three-pronged goal seeks to increase gender equity across its six races in three key areas: live TV coverage, classification on the international calendar, and prize purses.
Closing the Gap
The program is currently winding toward the end of its initial four-year strategy. Progress, according to Flanders Classics CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel, has been steady since the outset. Asked what people can expect in the program’s final year, Van Den Spiegel promised equal prizes for men and women.
“This year we’ve decided to level the prize money for Tour de Flanders,” Van Den Spiegel said. “This is just the first step towards 2023, and we still need to level the prize money for all our races.”
Specialized joins the initiative as Official Bike Partner
Specialized Bicycles’ two-year commitment to Closing the Gap begins immediately — the brand plans to attend Gent-Wevelgem this Sunday, March 27.
Details on how Specialized will help Flanders Classics continue its work to level the playing field were unavailable as of this writing. In a statement, Specialized PR Leader Kelly Henningsen spoke to the shared vision the partnership represents.
“This partnership makes sense on many levels. Flanders Classics not only represents some of the most exciting and iconic races in cycling but joining them in their commitment to Closing the Gap for women in cycling is one hundred percent aligned with our values,” Henningsen said. “We strongly believe in the work Flanders Classics has already done to promote six of the biggest women’s races on the calendar and we are proud to work with them to realize equality for women in sport.”
The 2022 Flanders Classics season got underway on February 26.
Annemiek van Vleuten and Wout van Aert took the women’s and men’s fields, respectively, at Omloop Het Niewsblad.