Cycling official slammed for claiming he was "forced" to hold women’s race

Itzulia Women race director

Euskadi Cycling Organisations President Julián Eraso was heavily criticised after claiming he was “forced” to hold a women’s race. 

Eraso’s comments were in reference to the Itzulia Women, an event on the Women’s World Tour. 

The race, which is the women’s equivalent of the men’s Tour of the Basque Country, is being held for the first time this year. 

According to El Español, Eraso implied to Radio Marca Bilbao that organisers had been compelled to include female cyclists.

“We have almost been forced to organise it,” he said. “This is a matter of fashion.

“Everyone says that you have to do things for women’s sport and it has also touched cycling.”

After Eraso received heavy criticism for his words, race organisers released a statement apologising for the incident. 

“The Itzulia Women was born of the need to recover a great women’s stage race in the Basque Country following the disappearance of the Emakumeen Bira and the consecrated success of the first two editions of the women’s Clasica San Sebastian,” it read.

“The aim of the organisation was and is to promote women’s cycling in the Basque Country and respond to the express vocation of our institutional partners (City Councils, Provincial Councils and the Basque Government).

“Our support and commitment as an organisation to women’s cycling are unequivocal.

“The organisation regrets any misunderstanding and unease generated and hopes that the unfortunate comments made by Julian Eraso, President of OCETA, on Radio Marca Bilbao, do not tarnish the excellent progress made by the arrival of the Itzulia Women amongst the ecosystem of races that make up the international women’s cycling calendar.”

There have been two stages of the Itzulia Women so far, with Demi Vollering of the Netherlands winning both. 

The 139.8 kilometre third and final stage is scheduled to take place tomorrow, with the race starting and ending in Donostia-San Sebastián. 

Women’s cycling is currently experiencing a period of rapid growth, with the Women’s World Tour expanded to 71 races.

The Tour de France Femmes will be held for the first time this year, with the renowned event scheduled for July 24th to 31st.

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