Last week, it was announced that organisers of the Hiitsapiztejk, an iconic race in Belgium, would be making adjustments to their dress regulations for competitors.
At first, we logically assumed that this would be a reflection of how cutting edge technical fabrics have evolved, or that sponsors logos would need to be resized.
How wrong we were.
The translation from Flemish press release reads:
"For the 2019 event, female competitors will be required to wear a skirt of a length that, when standing, the hem reaches no higher than 18.5cm above the mid point of the knee cap."
Ride the Night is the nearest we've seen to a race in skirts
The origins of the Hiitsapiztejk date back to the 1920s. Highlights over the 153km route have included back-to-back wins by Beryl Burton in 1958-59 and Marianne Vos' famous win by a wheel length in 2009.
When questioned, a spokesman for the Fédération Olympique Occidentale de Liège, the event's organisers, conceded that this could be construed as a backward looking step for female sport.
However, he went on to say:
"This is a true reflection of the views of our members, who have grown increasingly concerned about the tightness of female cycling outfits in recent years."
He also alluded to a scientific study that found that a skirt could actually improve aerodynamic performance rather than detract from it. And he suggested that sponsors might appreciate the additional real estate for logos.
One elderly member was quoted as saying:
"I always felt that ladies actually rode better when they wore more appropriate clothing, so I'm delighted by the adjustments."
But a high profile member of the pro peloton, who didn't wish to be named, told us:
"This is like going back to the dark ages. What will they want next, high heels and blouses?"
What do you think? Charming throwback or outrageous slight to female sporting endeavour? One thing's for sure: it will be quite a spectacle on June 16th.
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