Monday 24 February 2014

My moment of the week - 3

Another step towards equal pay

News from Twenty20 Cycling
Milestone: Koppenbergcross is the first European cyclocross to give equal prize money, powered by Twenty20 Cycling.

The Koppenbergcross in Oudenaarde sets a new milestone in the history of cyclocross. In cooperation with the American company Twenty20 Cycling we are the first European cyclocross to provide equal prize money for men elite and women. So far there was a gap of over five thousand euros between the prize scales for men and women in first category races, such as the Koppenbergcross. A gap that the Sint-Pietersvrienden, organizers of the Koppenbergcross, now decided to close.
The winner of the GP Twenty20 Cycling (the new name of our women’s race) on Saturday November 1st 2014 is no longer rewarded by 350 euros but by 1667. Exactly the same as the next winner of our GP Willy Naessens for men elite. The same counts for all riders further down the results of our men and women’s race. A clear signal with which we hope to help the current growth of the Koppenbergcross and women’s cyclocross. So far, the world championships were the only cyclocross races on European soil to give equal prize money.

The British rider Helen Wyman – European champion cyclocross, member of the cyclocross committee of the international cycling federation, triple winner of our race and resident of Oudenaarde – is obviously happy with this step.
"In my eyes, this is a huge step. It is a very significant moment for women's cycling. This allows women to make one step up the ladder towards equality. I spend a lot of my free time trying to advance women’s cyclocross and I hope this will lead to a chain reaction of races who do the same, as I know the support is there from sponsors, supporters and riders. To be a part of this development for the sport is fantastic for me.”
“For the Koppenbergcross to be the first race in Europe to do this is very special. I love the Koppenbergcross, to me it is the biggest race outside of the World Championships. It is legendary. To have an American sponsor back the race shows how significant it is around the world. I can't thank Twenty20 Cycling enough on behalf of all of the racers that take part next season. I'm certainly already looking forward to the GP Twenty20 Cycling and hope to collect another cobble stone in 2014.”
I am very pleased to hear such positive news for women's cycle racing, especially in a world where the gap in prize money between the genders is shameful.
The winner of the 2013 Tour de France won 450,000 euros. The winner of the women's equivalent race in 2013, the Giro Rosa, won 460 euros! Marianne Vos, one of the greatest female cyclists, who has World Championship titles not just in cyclo cross but also in road racing and track cycling, plus Olympic titles can earn up to 80,000 euros per year. That is a decent salary, but compare that to the 2 million euros of Bradley Wiggins!
Furthermore professional male cyclists in a ProTour team are guaranteed a minimum salary of 30,000 euros per year. Women racers in equivalent level teams, on the other hand receive no minimum salary, with some only earning just 6,000 euros per annum, and many having day jobs in parallel to their cycle racing.
I understand that lobbying is constantly taking place, not least by the women racers themselves, and  the world cycling governing body, the UCI is (supposedly) looking into it. However, the wheels of change are turning very slowly.
It is good to hear this positive news and I hope it is the start of a turnaround in attitudes to prize money for women in sport.

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