He’s previously said that he doesn’t believe that women’s cycling is in an economic position to have firm regulations about the payment of a minimum wage but with the sport developing, UCI President Brian Cookson has said that the time for that is growing closer.
“I think we are making great steps now,” Cookson told CyclingTips, speaking about how he saw women’s cycling at this point in time. “Next year we will see a major step forward in the creation of the UCI Women’s World Tour. We will bring together the stage races as well as the individual one day races.
“We are seeing a lot more interest from around the world in putting on women’s events in places like California, the Tour Down Under and so on. And I think we will see that grow.
“I think that within a short period of time we will be in a position to have rules about minimum wage. And I will take advice from the women’s commission, from women who are involved in the teams and the riders’ associations and so on as to when the right time for that is.”
The fact that some women competing on the top level are unpaid or earning a very low amount has long been a topic of discussion, with many calling for a greater equality between men’s and women’s cycling.
Cookson has been criticised by some for saying that he believes the imposition of a minimum wage could have a negative effect if introduced too soon. However others such as UCI vice president and women’s commission president Tracey Gaudry has also agreed that there is a danger in pushing this point in the short term.
While both agree that arriving at that point is a priority, they recognise that women’s cycling needs to be financially stronger to be able to introduce such rules across the board.
Fortunately, Cookson believes that progress is being made and that the situation is improving.
The Briton was speaking at the running of the second La Course event, a race introduced in 2014 in response to calls for a women’s Tour de France.
Thus far La Course has been limited to a one day event run on the final day of the men’s Tour, using the same finishing circuit in Paris. It is essentially a criterium race and while it has benefited from TV coverage and good spectator levels, it falls some way short of the women’s stage race originally campaigned for by the likes of female riders Marianne Vos, Emma Pooley and Kathrine Bertine.
CyclingTips asked Cookson if he believed a multi-stage event was likely in the future.
He responded by saying that he sees an expansion of La Course as being possible, but not to the point of it becoming a three week event.
“ASO have their own ideas about what they want to do. I don’t necessarily think we are ever going to see a women’s race totally in parallel with the men’s Tour de France, but I am hopeful that we can see some expansion of this race,” he stated.
“But I also think it is important that we expand and develop women’s cycling in a way that is incrementally sustainable, that seeks opportunities where women can do their own thing. I have said many times before that I don’t think the answer is to compel every men’s event to have a women’s event or to compel every men’s team to have a women’s team.
“I think it is important that we allow women’s cycling to grow in that economically sustainable way. I think we are seeing that now. We are involving women in the decision-making processes much more than has ever been the case before and I think we are seeing the benefits of that now.”