Alexandra Chart from Henley is joining the InternationElles, a team of ten female cyclists, who will be cycling all 21 stages of the Tour de France, a day ahead of the male pros in July.
The team from all over the world will be riding 3,460km, which will take them from Brussels on 5 July to Paris on 27 July via the Alps and the Pyrenées. They have been brought together in February by the powers of the Internet and will meet for the first time in Brussels the day before they begin their three week challenge.
Alexandra moved to Henley three years ago and is the Corporate Development Director at Morgan Advance Materials based in Windsor. Alexandra said, “I moved to Henley to escape the chaos of London and to enjoy all the countryside has to offer. I love being outdoors; be it walking my 3-year-old hyperactive labradoodle, exploring the Oxfordshire villages and climbing the Chiltern hills on my road bike, running the trails in Hambledon or swimming in the local lakes or in the river with friends.”
Currently male riders have 21 stages in France with female riders only having a single day race in France to show the world their class. InternationElles want to change this. For the first time ever, the InternationElles, will be riding alongside a female French team in their fifth year, to assist in highlighting the inequality that currently exists in cycling. The French team, “Donnons des Elles au Vélo J-1,” DDE, is a French play on words, which translates to, figuratively, “to give women’s cycling wings.”
Rowing was Alexandra’s first sport she got into at University and currently holds the British record for rowing a marathon indoors. After moving to London, she took up running and ran her first marathon in Rome. She then discovered cycling and did a coast to coast challenge across Mexico to raise money for McMillan Cancer Support and afterwards completed her first triathlon. She’s completed 4 half Ironman events and 5 full distance events, hitting the golden sub 12-hour target.
Asked by to join the InternationElles by a friend and fellow cyclist, Alexandra said, “I wanted to join because I love cycling, I love the Tour and I believe in equality for all. Role models are essential in inspiring new boundaries to be pushed. With no female Tour, this needs to change as women need to be seen as equal in every walk of life in every country.”
Training so far this year has seen Alexandra complete the 312km race around Mallorca, accidently winning the 225km race in her age category having missed a turning and completing the 225km course before turning back to finish the full 312km course, covering 330km in total! She also completed the Tour of Wessex (a 3 day 180km/day cycling event with a 3,000m of climbing a day) to build up her multi-day endurance. Most weekends she’s been increasing her long rides with friends from her club, GS Henley and tries to commute by bike when possible.
Looking at the challenge ahead, Alexandra commented, “I have many worries and challenges to face. The multi day of 200km rides back to back with mountain stages day after day will exhaust my body like I’ve never experienced before. But more so, the mental fatigue I am likely to experience will be an enormous challenge. To get up and back on the bike each day when tiered, sore and really quite fed up of cycling is going to be unlike anything I’ve known. I’m nervous about the cobbles, and the gravel sections, the steep climbs and endless roads. The terrain and cycling that is all new, whilst I am confident it will be an incredible experience I am also confident it will challenge me to beyond my limits, lets hope I can stretch them further than ever before!!”
Follow Alexandra’s journey with InternationElles on Instagram (@InternationElles), Twitter (@InternationEll2) and Facebook (InternationElles), and their website is www.internationelles.com