Craig Wapnick, director of the Old Mutual joBerg2c MTB stage race, has announced that pairs made up of men and women will receive equal prize-money to men in the 2016 event. The joBerg2C is a 900km nine-day stage race, and attracts riders from around the world.
“Our research has shown that women prefer racing longer stage races with a male partner,” said Wapnick. Extra cash for the mixed category has been supplied commercial law firm Lanham-Love Attorneys.
“They are also experts on matrimonial matters," joked Wapnick. "Riding an event like this either leads to marriage or divorce."
The top mixed team will win £2,100.
Wapnick said he would like to see more women-only pairs taking on the challenge: “Although we would have loved more female-only teams taking part, the growth has been slower than anticipated but the mixed category continues to grow."
Leading the international entries in the mixed section so far are Sonya Looney of US team FreakShow (pictured). She is the current world 24-hour champion, and will be riding with Yuki Ikeda of the Japanese Topeak Ergon team.
They will face top local teams such as Grant Usher and world single-speed champion Amy Beth McDougal of Team Valencia/joBerg2c.
“If more women-only teams start entering, we will adjust the prize-money accordingly," said Wapnick.
“But, for now, we would rather have more women riding than not.”
The total prize purse for the event will be £15,000, which is an increase of around 40 percent. In addition, City Lodge will sponsor the age group categories with accommodation prizes worth £6,300.
The 2016 race – which is open to serious and not-so-serious racers – takes place from April 22nd to 28th. Entries close on January 31st.