Austin Killips, a transgender female, finished in first place in the women’s category in the Tour of the Gila as she finished in first place in the final stage of the event in New Mexico.
Killips broke free from the pack in the final minutes of the race. Killips clocked in at 3:07:16 defeating Marcela Prieto and Cassandra Nelson in the stage.
"We really wanted to get into a break," Julie Kuliecza, the team director of Killips’ sponsor – Amy D Foundation – said afterward, via Cycling News. "We thought that there was going to be something that would go right after the second sprint point, and we wanted a rider in that break so that when Austin and the other GC riders came up to it, Austin would have someone to help them and protect them, and it worked out perfectly."
With the focus on transgender women competing against biological females taking centerstage across the country, Killips took some heat on social media for the victory.
The Tour of Gila congratulated Killips on the win but limited the responses.
Killips was also the subject of controversy at the UCI Cyclocross National Championships in December 2022, when she was accused of pushing another competitor off course. Killips denied making the move in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade.
Killips’ emergence on the cyclocross circuit was the reason Hannah Arensman, a 35-time winner on the national cyclocross circuit, said she retired from the sport altogether. Arenasman revealed her situation in an amicus brief filed to the Supreme Court in hopes of keeping West Virginia’s Save Women’s Sports legislation in place back in March.
"I was born into a family of athletes. Encouraged by my parents and siblings, I competed in sports from a young age, and I followed in my sister’s footsteps, climbing the ranks to become an elite cyclocross racer," her message read. "Over the past few years, I have had to race directly with male cyclists in women’s events. As this has become more of a reality, it has become increasingly discouraging to train as hard as I do only to have to lose to a man with the unfair advantage of an androgenized body that intrinsically gives him an obvious advantage over me, no matter how hard I train.
"I have decided to end my cycling career. At my last race at the recent UCI Cyclocross National Championships in the elite women’s category in December 2022, I came in 4th place, flanked on either side by male riders awarded 3rd and 5th places. My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me, having witnessed several physical interactions with him throughout the race.
"Additionally, it is difficult for me to think about the very real possibility I was overlooked for an international selection on the US team at Cyclocross Worlds in February 2023 because of a male competitor.
"Moving forward, I feel for young girls learning to compete and who are growing up in a day when they no longer have a fair chance at being the new record holders and champions in cycling because men want to compete in our division. I have felt deeply angered, disappointed, overlooked, and humiliated that the rule makers of women’s sports do not feel it is necessary to protect women’s sports to ensure fair competition for women anymore."