Gilmore rolling after help from Wiggins

CYCLING 

The Illawarra's Rochelle Gilmore is narrowing the gender gap for professional cyclists, thanks to some help from Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins and a big sponsorship deal.

Launched in November, Gilmore's Pro Cycling team yesterday announced a three-year deal with a bicycle retailer worth at least $1 million.

2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Gilmore, who grew up at Stanwell Tops and now has homes in Cronulla and northern Italy, had been scheduled to ride in the NSW International Grand Prix Series in Wollongong last Sunday but withdrew because she was involved in the Amy Gillett Foundation's Share the Road Tour from Adelaide to Melbourne.

She manages and will ride for the pro cycling team, which has assembled a roster of some of the sport's best-credentialed women cyclists.

They include England's dual 2012 Olympic champion Laura Trott, Italy's three-time world champion Giorgia Bronzini and seven-time Japanese national champion Mayuko Hagiwara.

The team is backed by the Bradley Wiggins Foundation.

Gilmore said traditionally funding difficulties meant female professional cyclists made about one-tenth of their male counterparts, needed to work second jobs and weren't given the support they needed.

However the sponsorship deal and Wiggins' backing meant her team, which will debut at February's Tour of Qatar, would be different.

"Bradley Wiggins wanted to be involved with a women's cycling team to help provide women that wanted to pursue a career in cycling with a comfortable standard of living," Gilmore said.

"They've not been able to do that until now. Thankfully with his involvement the team does have a stable budget and can provide the athletes with a comfortable environment.

"They don't need to worry about working a second job and they can get the best out of themselves.

"He liked my philosophy of putting together a team that wouldn't compromise on anything." AAP

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