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Tamara de Graaf - "just a video girl" certainly not

Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 in Pro Cycling

Women in male professional cycling? Yes, there are, but their positions are usually limited to a few fields of activity. Stereotypes take hold here as elsewhere in the world. But there are also women who want to break them down. Thankfully, we met one of them last year.

Women in professional cycling? Rather misguided 

The 2020 season was just starting and one of our riders made contact with "that video girl". Yeah cool, we could use something like that, nice videos about our races, training camps, sponsor appointments, that's how it works in a very classic way and with that we already fall into the trap. Women are also active in World Tour teams, as physiotherapists, support staff or perhaps as press manager or social media representatives. But then it becomes very thin, a female mechanic, sports director or even team manager? Rather absent.

She can ride a bike too?​

We were in a training camp in the mountains, Tamara made great videos out of the open back lying down while the car raced around the bends, the cyclists close behind. When we were done, she got on the bike herself and ironed down a descent with the boys. Without any fear and with perfect bike control, she boxed her way through the group at high speed. Phew, she can ride a bike too?

Her Dad was national coach in Holland on the track, she watched the training with her sister as a child, then 4 years ago she became Dutch champion in the sprint, yes then you can cycle. She had big sporting dreams, but several difficulties made her distance herself from competitive sport. 

Finally someone for the videos​

She took up the camera, did an apprenticeship and founded her own business "Tamara de Graaf Movie". And at just 21 years old, she is already doing really well. For us it's a great enrichment and helps us to improve the communication about our activities. So we were kind of happy and thought, yes now we have someone for the videos.

She has found her fun in racing again and will be racing for a fixed gear team from London in 2021 while working for BIKE AID. And fixie racing is not for girls who give in (no brakes, no gears). A tough girl, that's exactly how we met Tamara.

"I love being on the road with the guys. They didn't treat me like 'just a videographer' or otherwise because I'm a woman. From the first moment I felt like I was an integral part of the group, more like a family to than just a cycling team. I have already experienced countless beautiful memories with the team in the short time we have been together as we discover new countries around the world, and I am very happy to be part of this team" said Tamara de Graaf.

What, she wants to drive a car in a race too?

"She wrote to me that she had a question but hardly dared to ask it. She dreams of becoming a sports director in a professional team. Maybe she wasn't quite ready for the answer when I said, 'No problem, of course we can help you with that. If we were to end up in the Tour de France with our crazy idea of a team and no other team had made it before, a woman would definitely have to be the sporting director. It's embarrassing enough for professional cycling that so far only men have been behind the Steering wheel," says Matthias Schnapka.

Even in women's cycling, which is already very disadvantaged, female athletes often have to be guided by „know-it-all men" at best. But anyone who is a little deeper in the subject knows about a number of questionable characters as team managers who exploit the dependence of female athletes. At least more and more female athletes dare to go public with their experiences, as some recent debates have shown (Example 1, Example 2).

Why do we still need articles like this? 

Tamara de Graaf will certainly go her own way. If we can help her a little bit, we will be happy. And hopefully we will soon be to the point where such an article is no longer necessary. Because the very fact that one still has to emphasise that women can or want anything is not a little tainted with prejudice. Every boy would say "I want to" and Tamara has to write "I know it's not easy to become a sports director as a woman, but I know it's not impossible".