The recent shock retirement of the current double South African road cycling champion, Ronel van Wyk, in part over her dissatisfaction over the inequality of rewards for female cyclists, has cast a spotlight on event prize money, in some cases revealing significant discrepancies between that offered to the men and the women.

"The women’s category is currently the biggest potential growth area for cycling, both road cycling and mountain biking, and it’s important that we encourage that growth," says Annie Batchelder, Amashovashova Race Director.

"We realise that there is still more depth in men’s cycling so we pay the prize money deeper to them. We pay to third place for the women and down to 10th place for the men," said Batchelder.

The 2007 Amashovashova will offer R7000 to both the first man and woman in the Elite racing categories, essentially both contested by predominantly professional or full-time cyclists.

"We’ve got bigger gaps between first, second and third place women’s prize money compared to the men’s, because we feel it will encourage more aggressive racing among the women," said Batchelder reflecting on the regularly-raised point that the women’s racing is less intense in character compared to that of the men.

"We’ve tried to find some middle ground on this issue, and a R3000 difference between first and second place should hopefully be quite a motivator," added Batchelder, who, along with her Deputy Race Director, Melissa Felt, have both taken up recreational cycling this year.

The prize money breakdown for the 2007 Pick ‘n Pay Amashovashova prize purses is as follows: 1st R7000, 2nd R4000, 3rd R3000.

In the other age categories, such as sub-veteran and veteran, the men and women’s prize money is equal in both quantity and depth, making the Amashovashova one of the few cycle races in the country that recognises and rewards the efforts of male and female participants equally.

Entries are still open for the 2007 Pick ‘n Pay Amshovashova, which offers full road closure along the entire scenic 106km route between Pietermaritzburg and Durban.

Other events making up the weekend of cycling celebration are the East Coast Radio 40km Fun Ride, the Asishove 45km and 20km mountain bike events, the Asishove 6km Kiddies Ride, the Mini-Shova 1km and 5km kiddie’s rides and a kermesse for Elite and Veteran men.

For more information on all of the events, visit the Amshovashova website, or call (031) 312 8896.