'Lia Thomas' moment as transgender cyclist crowned Queen of the Mountains

A transgender cyclist has been crowned Queen of the Mountain's after winning a prestigious women's race in the US.

Austin Killips, a 27-year-old biological male from Chicago who identifies as a woman, won the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico prompting critics to declare it a 'Lia Thomas' moment for cycling.

Killips became a cyclist in 2019 before starting hormone replacement therapy. The sport's world governing body allows men to compete in female events if they have reduced testosterone levels of 2.5 nanomoles per litre for the previous two years.

Men usually have ten to 35 nmol/l, while a woman’s natural level is usually 0.5 to 2.4 nmol/l.

Fellow cyclist Alison Sydor, a Canadian cross-country world champion and Olympic silver-medal winner, said the rules on transgender competitors were unfair to female athletes.

"Going from the Male->Female category (gender doping) in cycling sport I’d argue is no different functionally than doping.

"The cycling industry has in my opinion supported too many 'influencers' to spread hate, hyperbole & disinformation against anyone speaking up about fairness concerns of trans-identified males."

She added that their rules were "passed with no discussion [or] consultation with the people who have to live with these rules today."

Inga Thompson, a US Olympian and national road race champion said Killips' win was "cycling's equivalent of Lia Thomas", the transgender swimmer who faced scrutiny after winning a college women's title last year.

Killips came to attention in March after former cyclo-cross champion Hannah Arensman accused him of repeatedly shoving her during the race – a claim Killips denied.

Ms Arensman lost out on a podium place to Killips in the national finals in December, prompting her to declare she was retiring from the sport.

“I have decided to end my cycling career,” she said. “My sister and family sobbed as they watched a man finish in front of me, having witnessed several physical interactions with him during the race.

"I feel for young girls learning to compete, who no longer have a fair chance at being the new record-holders and champions in cycling because men want to compete in our division."

Following her win of the Tour of the Gila, Ms Killips wrote on her Instagram: "After a week of nonsense on the internet I’m especially thankful to everyone in the peloton and sport who continue to affirm that Twitter is not real life.

"I love my peers and competitors and am grateful for every opportunity I get to learn and grow as a person and athlete on course together.”

Killips is now tipped to challenge for a place at the Tour de France Femmes and at next summer’s Paris Olympics.