Austin Killips’ overall victory at the long-time American professional cycling stage race Tour of the Gila in Silver City, New Mexico, on Sunday, was met with another wave of controversy surrounding a nearly polarised discussion about transgender rights in both sporting and political arenas.
After five days of racing in the elite women’s category, Killips won the final stage atop the Gila Monster, an ascent that annually brings the event to a close. She secured the mountains classification and the overall victory, becoming the first transgender woman to win a UCI 2.2-registered stage racing event.
In an exclusive interview with Cyclingnews, Killips spoke about the rules governing transgender women competing in cycling, training, support networks, and her potential future in cycling.
“Maybe this is the first Tour of the Gila that a trans woman has won, but we’ve been out here for a while,” Killips said. ”There is this idea of being the first ones to do things, but it’s also like, there are not that many of us, so when the stars align, or we accomplish something notable, the previous ones fall off the collective consciousness. It isn’t unprecedented, we’ve kind of been around for a while, and there have been a lot of people who have paved the way for what I am doing.”
Killips credited her victory to the preparation, training and support from the Amy Foundation that went into her performance.
“It’s exciting. I’m over the moon about it. I structured my entire training block around it, so it feels good to have it come to fruition,” Killips said.
“The special thing about stage racing is that everyone has a special role and something to do, and every day felt like a celebration. Our director put an emphasis on it being a special experience that we had capable people on the team at the race. I’m acutely aware that some doors close on our previous projects and journeys, but it’s important to relish in all those moments of joy, process, goals and small steps. The win was incredible, and we were all so happy.”
Killips’ victory could be recognized as a milestone for transgender athletes in sports. However, she said that if it wasn’t for athletes Natalie van Gogh, based in the Netherlands, and Molly Cameron, in the US, she wouldn’t have had a reference point on which to base…
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