A Wiltshire woman has been named among the most exceptional female athletes in the UK’s 100 Most Inspiring Women in Cycling list.

Petra Wiltshire is a former pro and world champion downhill mountain bike racer and has now been recognised for her work encouraging other women to get on their bikes.

The 54-year-old from Dilton Marsh says she grew up in an ultra-sporty and competitive family, as her Dad was a motor racing driver and her mum a professional horse rider. She has now gone on to win three UCI Downhill MTB Masters World Champion jerseys and more than 20 UCI World Cups.

“I just love racing. I love being in an environment with all these people doing the same thing and I always want to push hard for myself,” she said.

But according to Petra, not enough is done to get women into cycling.

“Cycling is a fantastic way to get around sustainably, keep fit and have fun outdoors and we want everyone to benefit from the joy of cycling,” said Sarah Mitchell. Cycling UK’s chief executive.

“But in the UK, substantially fewer women ride than men. It’s our mission to reverse that and see equal levels of cycling across all genders.”

Petra is now using her world champion platform to promote gravel riding to women and to set up a gravel and mountain bike group from a local bike shop in Frome.

“A great way to encourage more women to cycle is to share the stories of these amazing women – whether they’re chronicling their adventures on social media, advocating for better infrastructure in their neighbourhoods, inspiring their communities to join them for a ride or winning medals around the world,” added Ms Mitchell.

“Choosing the top one hundred winners involves some really tough choices – there are so many brilliant women out there who we’d want to celebrate.”

This year, Cycling UK’s panel was joined by two guest judges, Michelle Arthurs-Brennan, digital editor of Cycling Weekly, and Hannah Dobson, managing editor of Singletrack World.

"It's been eye-opening to read the stories of so many wonderful characters, doing so much to drive the women's cycling community forward, growing numbers and confidence levels across such a broad range of cycling styles,” said Michelle Arthurs-Brennan.

“From sports enthusiasts to commuters, and those using bikes to cross cultural barriers and enact meaningful change, it’s clear that the future for women in cycling is bright.”