Close the gap: Meet the editorial panel for Issue 121

Introducing the six women who helped Rouleur create 121: Close the Gap

Rouleur’s first women’s issue, released in 2021, wonderfully guest edited by Orla Chennaoui and our best-selling magazine ever, made history, opened eyes and broke records. Above all, it proved that there is a hunger for high-quality coverage of women’s sport. Build it and they will come. Two years on, women’s cycling has progressed immeasurably: we’ve seen the introduction of races like Tour de France Femmes and Paris-Roubaix Femmes, and the number of riders fighting for victory at the very top of the sport is bigger than ever before. At Rouleur, we knew now was the right moment to dedicate another magazine to women, but this time, we wanted to go bigger.

The mission of this issue is to empower more women to take part not just in cycling, competitive and otherwise, but sport in general. From training through the menstrual cycle, to overcoming stereotypes and building welcoming communities, we want to help close the gap between men’s and women’s participation in sport. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done.

Rouleur’s own contingent of female staff and contributors has been burgeoning over the years, but we still wanted to call on the expertise of others to help us produce a second women’s issue that would hopefully make an even bigger impact on the world of sport than the first. Enter our Editorial Panel. 

We invited six inspiring and powerful women who have an incredible breadth of varied experience in sport to help us decide what should go in this magazine. They also gave their thoughts on how to narrow the gap between male and female participation in sport in the Close the Gap feature inside Issue 121.

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Sydney Cassidy 

Sydney Cassidy is a UK fitness content creator empowering women to embrace their own strength, get fit and lift through content creation on social media channels. She aims to showcase the best of the gym community to try and encourage more people to find their confidence exercising in the gym space, through the medium of videos which support, enable and empower women to train. Over the last year, Cassidy has built a follower base of over 555,000 on TikTok and 256,000 on Instagram. She also runs a private online Facebook community, Gym Girls Locker Room, which has 105,000 members and offers a space to communicate and cultivate friendships with like-minded people.

Orla Chennaoui 

Orla Chennaoui is a presenter, host and journalist. She joined Eurosport as the lead presenter in 2019 for their cycling coverage. Away from the camera, Chennaoui co-hosts The Cycling Podcast Féminin and has her own podcast, The Breakaway. She writes regular columns for Rouleur, the Metro newspaper and the Belfast Telegraph. In early 2023, Chennaoui launched her latest personal venture, Ten Times Braver – a community of support, lifestyle hacks, events, motivational speaking and tips to overcome the fears holding people back. Chennaoui has a degree in Law with French and a post grad in journalism and is a part-time yogi and outdoor swimmer, and full time mum.

Lizzie Deignan 

Lizzie Deignan is a British professional road cyclist, who currently rides for Women’s WorldTour team Lidl-Trek. She was the 2015 world road race champion and the 2014 Commonwealth Games road race champion. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Deignan won the silver medal in the road race. She has won the British National Road Race Championships four times, in 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2017. In 2018, she gave birth to her first child, Orla, and inspired many with her comeback to the sport, winning the inaugural edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes in 2021. In September last year, Deignan gave birth to her second child, Shea, and is now back racing in the WorldTour peloton.

Stephanie Hilborne 

Stephanie Hilborne is the Chief Executive of Women in Sport, a charity with the aim of creating lasting change for women and girls in sport and society. Since becoming CEO in 2019, she has been making sure the charity is tackling major policy issues and expanding its influence on government and its partnerships in sport, while also diversifying its people and its funding base. Before she joined Women in Sport, Hilborne spent 15 years at the helm of The Wildlife Trusts, a movement with a mission to restore the UK’s ecosystems and reconnect people to nature. In 2010, she was awarded an OBE for her services to nature conservation. Her stated aim: reduce the gender play gap.

Isla Rowntree 

Isla Rowntree launched Islabikes in 2006 with the aim of providing a better cycling experience for children. The idea was born after Rowntree discovered a lack of good options when her sister asked her to recommend the best children’s bike for her nieces, and Islabikes is now widely regarded as having revolutionised children’s bicycle design. Rowntree was also a successful cyclo-cross racer and campaigned with others for a women’s UK National Championship and a World Championship race to take place in the discipline, the latter having its inaugural edition in 2000. While still involved in the company, Rowntree has recently stood down as CEO of Islabikes with the aim of spending more time on two wheels herself.

Jools Walker 

Jools Walker is an author, voiceover artist, model and broadcaster. Also known as LadyVelo, Walker has worked in the cycling industry for 13 years with the aim of widening participation and increasing diversity in cycling for marginalised and underrepresented groups. After starting her own blog in 2010, Walker went on to work as a presenter on ITV4’s The Cycle Show, co-founded the Women Of Colour Cycling Collective, and wrote the best-selling memoir Back in the Frame: Cycling, Belonging and Finding Joy on a Bike. Her podcast, Adventures in Coffee, was named ‘New and Noteworthy’ by Apple Podcasts and was nominated for ‘Best Coffee Podcast’ in the 2023 Sprudge Awards.

*Cover illustrations by Monte Galbany

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