Cycling: Ljungskog to take on the men

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The Independent Online

The double road race world champion, Susanne Ljungskog, is set to become the first woman to compete in a men's élite cycling race, organisers of a Swedish event revealed yesterday.

Ljungskog has been invited to compete in the 197km (122 mile) Scandinavian Open on 8 August, a race for both professional and amateur riders.

"The physical difference between women and men is of course so big that I don't have any hopes of challenging the men, but I hope to be able to keep up," Ljungskog said in a statement.

However, the race organiser, Hans Jonsson, said Ljungskog's participation must still be approved by the international cycling union, UCI.

"We've received positive signals," Jonsson said. "We expect a positive answer from UCI." A UCI spokesman did not immediately return calls for comment.

Ljungskog has won the women's road race world championship title for the past two years. She would not be the first Swedish female athlete to break through the gender barrier. Last year, the leading Swedish golfer, Annika Sorenstam, became the first woman in 58 years to play with the men on the PGA Tour.