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August 18, 2017
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  • Derek Maher

    Lets not get carried away ladies. Yes to better prize money if the race organizers can afford it. The ladies Giro Rosa while a tough 10 days can hardly be compared to the Giro a 3 week stage race also the Giro Rosa has been kept going while all the other big ladies tours collapsed due to lack of funding.Okay maybe the Rosa people can squeeze a bit more cash from sponsors ?.I would like to see the UCI letting the ladies race longer stages maybe not as long as the men but it would add greater flexibility to planning out routes for future stage races plus would justify more prize money if it can be raised.

  • winkybiker

    Of course prize money should be equal. Zero for everybody. Use the money to improve the races or to reduce costs for all entrants.

    • Dave


      A win in any sport is only as good as the contestants that the winner has beaten. Racing is improved by getting better fields, not by increasing the monetary reward for the handful of top riders.

      • Rodrigo Diaz

        question: if you have a contending rider that can opt betweentwo races, one that pays the podium and one that doesn’t, which one is he/she more likely to choose, ceteris paribus?

        “getting better fields” is not independent of the cash payout. Especially when teams distribute cash for winning (many do). I know groups of privateers and small teams that plan their crit calendars according to forecasted payouts to keep the season going.

  • jules

    YES – if the prize money is drawn from a common pool for men’s and women’s races in a single event or series
    NO – if the prize money is drawn from an individual race’s budget. in this case, the prize money is not practically determined by gender, but by what is available for that race. the unfortunate reality is that many women’s races run on smaller budgets.

    YES – in principle. but in our capitalist society, financial matters are generally not determined on principle, but practicality/commercial reality. we should aim for equal prize money though.

  • Rowena

    Saying no to equal prize money because of excuses like, “it’s not as far” or “they don’t race as often” or “they don’t have as many people to race against” isn’t acceptable anymore. It says to the daughters of our future that their worth and their win is less than that of a mans. A women’s win isn’t less than that of a man’s. Those of you who say, “of course a win is equal, but still you know they didn’t race as far…” there is no but here. The UCI set the precedents for what women can race, as a viewer of women’s cycling I can’t see the point of increasing the stage length for women, if anything they should decrease the length for men in order to make those long boring stages more exciting.

    As for Derek with his patronising “lets not get carried away ladies…” can you hear my eyes role from the West Coast of Australia? I suggest that we do continue to get “carried away”, that we fight and argue for the conditions that we want.

    Whilst I am aware of the commercial realities of the world and our societies it is impossible to understand why equal prize money isn’t a goal of every race organiser. How do I make my race more fair? How do I encourage more women to come and join? More people racing means more money, the appearance of equality is a sign of respect and is encouraging to others. When a man does a sport the family may or may not take up the sport, however when a woman joins in the sport of a man, the children are more likely to then participate in the future.

    Women are half of this population and are deserving of equality with equity.

    • winkybiker

      Do you seriously think that prizemoney is an efficient means of encouraging “more women to come and join”? How about lower entry fees, or better race organisation, marketing and support. Especially relevant for your example of families taking up the sport. Why would prizemoney have anything whatsoever to do with that?

      You say that you’re well aware of the commercial realities yet believe it to be “impossible to understand” why equal prize money isn’t a goal”? Equal prizemoney, at best, is an outcome that may be achieved when the real goals of more equal participation rates are achieved and are combined with more equal spectator/media/sponsorship. Until then, dream on.

      I’m all for more people riding bikes, and racing them if they want to. The debate about prizemoney applies to a vanishingly small % of riders who seek to be paid for riding their bikes and distracts us from the real goals.

      Make it equal. Make it all zero and support the grassroots of the sport for all genders.

      • Rowena

        Equality is an efficient means of encouraging more women to come and join and if part of that is to do it with prize money then lets do it. I don’t think prize money at local levels is required, I think the money from entry fee’s should be going straight back to the club to allow entry fee’s to be lowered, entry fee’s for some races here are $30.00 + all the fee’s that go with it turning it into $35.00 and then transponder hire, it’s not worth it to race, it’s just getting too expensive.

        However on an elite scale prize money needs to be equal, the UCI is already recognising this with the World Championships and it will continue to filter down through racing as time goes on. My comments of equal prize money do relate more to the elite, having re-read my comments I can see how it isn’t clear. From a local level we should make it equal by not having prize money, allow more money to go back in for development.

        • winkybiker

          I don’t think that there needs to be any prize money, mens’ or womens’ at elite level either, but if there is it hardly matters. Equality starts with making events available for all participants. This is best achieved with low costs. Sponsors at the club level are attracted to successful events with large numbers of participants. The “fame” of the winners hardly matters. There is no non-enthusiast audience to court. Prize money at club level deters participation. I think we agree on that.

  • Adrian

    Many people do not understand how prize money works. Most of what I read is ideology and if this is the basis of change the sport will be worse off.

    For any cycling event with major prize money the bulk of prize money is made up of sponsorship (either directly or indirectly through the sale of television rights). Income for ticket sales is often zero – one of the positives and negatives of the sport. Sponsors have one goal. They want as many people to be exposed to their brand and products as possible – so people (spectators and viewers) go out and buy their products/services. This justifies the internal business investment and perception that sponsorship will generate a return – its worth it. Bigger events with more eye balls command greater levels of sponsorship dollars – sponsorship is often tiered (naming rights, car sponsor, partner airline, sprint jersey, etc etc.) with the price set by the organising event – with some negotiation around the margins. Ask to much and you have no sponsors, ask to little and you have sold yourself short and are possibly looking at a loss. The level of sponsorship directly affects the prize pool on offer. Which is why there is huge difference between say the Tour de France and Vuelta, both Grand Tour events. Eye balls are largely correlated with the level of riders participating and often the historical status of the event. Events with top riders participating in high status events (grand tours and monuments) generate the most sponsorship and therefore the largest prize pools. This is why second tier events often pay top riders or whole teams to particiapte (often more than who actually wins the event) – for example Chris Froome would have been payed north of $50,000 (plus costs) to participate in the Herald Sun Tour last year. Again snag a top rider and you hope you can snag a sponsor who will cover the $50,000, and in turn attract other sponsors and riders..and of course the important spectators and viewers. With the exception of a handful of events nobody makes money out of cycling events and for the most part are unseen by spectators and viewers e.g our NRS.

    The commercial reality is that if a cycling event had no spectators, their would be no sponsors and no prize money – unless all riders/team were charged a hefty entry fee – which is called Club racing. Commercial reality is blind and objective and is not sexist or biased – the simple reason being that if an event ignored commercial realities it would make loss – and we have seen plenty of these come and go. In short where commercial decisions are driven by ideology – events a doomed for failure.

    What any rider (male or female) and event organiser needs to understand is their value to spectators and inextricably their value to sponsors largely determines the level of prize money they can expect/demand or offer. Very much like the job we all try to hold down. Any rider needs to ask themselves will people get out of bed (at 2am) to watch me race and does that vary depending on the event (World Champs v Tour of China) and type of cycling event (Road v Track v MTB v CX v BMX). When I say VALUE I mean commercial dollar value.

    In my opinion it is not reasonable or wise for any individual or group of riders to demand a certain level of prize money; without understanding and making a case for their commercial value to event organisers/sponsors/spectators. Arguing that men and women should be paid the same prize money on ideological grounds ignores the fact that male riders attract more sponsor $ because more people watch them and the (male) events have greater status and history. For the same reason a track world champion can’t expect to be paid the same as Chris Froome. At the end of the day spectators/sponsors don’t really care whether one group of riders (lets say men or women – but we could say track v road) ‘deserve’ equal prize money because they work as hard, make the same sacrifices or offer the same blood sweat and tears. When the UCI comes out and announces equal prize money what actually happens is the mens event subsides the womens event – while there may be a case for doing this, it is not equality.

    Before you brand me sexist. If a male and female event attracts the same sponsorship $, spectators and the costs are equal then their should be no reason for any difference in prize money. Which is pretty much the case in Tennis with the four Grand Slam events – even though women play for three sets and men five. Womens tennis (through the WTA) has built up a fan base and events equal to the mens tour. Tennis is actually a good model for cycling to follow. There was a clear long term goal to achieve equal prize money but the path was based on commercial logic, not ideology – by raising the profile of womens players, their fan base and womens tour events. Lets face it Serena Williams is far more interesting (in all ways) than Roger Federer. The women’s tour generates similar sponsorship and therefore prize money. Women tennis players no outstrip male players in terms of the off sort public profiles, charity work, social media profiles and other commercial brand development. In the few times womens cycling is on TV I wonder whether they appreciate the world and sponsors are watching – often those pointless attacks in mens cycling are not pointless – they are about showman ship, brand/sponsor exposure and building a fan base.

    This is a good conversation to have because it shines a like on the commercial reality of our sport which 99% of people have no awareness of. Its important because cycling at all levels is commercially bankrupt, for example most Clubs break even, Cycling Australia has been technically insolvent for a few years, the UCI is a breakeven proposition and most cycling events are organised for love not profit and/or heavily subsides by Government – and as such are ordinary affairs. The huge dollars raked in by some events (i.e TDF) do not trickle down the sport.

    • Very well said Adrian. In principal I agree on equal prize money for professional races (I personally don’t think prize money should be given out at all in amateur ranks, period). However, the commercial reality is a completely different thing. It’s not a gender argument. It’s all about market size and commercial payoff for the people putting on these events, or providing television coverage, etc. If they don’t make money, then it is not sustainable for them to do again and again.

      I highly commend Kristopher Auer and do love his view that providing equal prize money benefits the health of the cycling community as a whole. He’s doing this because it’s the right thing to do. I wish the world worked like that, but business is not incentivised this way. It’s cold hard capitalism at work, and the reality is that cycling’s business model stinks.

      • Wish I was on the bike…

        This is an interesting discussion. Thanks. I remember seeing a comment (on a CT article on women’s cycling) that this segment of the cycling ‘marketplace’ was recognised as the biggest ‘opportunity’ for growth. While this smacks of commercialism and profiteering, it is a commercial reality. Someone has to take a risk to step into the marketplace. I thank and applaud CT for doing this. Ive enjoyed and gained a lot from reading Ella and from the breadth of views that can be seen both there and on the other CT pages.

      • Adrian

        I am not sure it stinks, to the extent that participants need to understand how the system (the world) works and use it to their advantage; perhaps an opportunity I say.
        The first step to achieve truly equal prize money and I imagine salary it to appreciate the sport and events have to be entertaining and be entertainment.
        Second step women do have the opportunity to create events and formats unencumbered by the past – that have way more appeal and entertainment value than some of the mens events – which hav’nt changed in 100 years. I think it is very big mistake to copy or piggy back off mens events. IMHO the mens tour is too long, formats are to similar, formats/tactics are difficult for non-cycling fans to understand, events are too long and most of event duaration is unwatchable. There is massive scope to reform cycling events and formats, I don’t think it is going to happen soon and if I was part of building a womens tour I would avoid it like the pox. IMHO

  • Mark Legg

    The irony of a promotion for the Sven Nys movie on this page is less than amusing. Sven blocked the vote for equal prize money for the Cyclocross World Cup events and the Overall at the UCI Cyclocross committee vote.

  • winkybiker

    One small step. Stop using “podium girls” for men’s races (do they use them at women’s races?) It is ridiculous that they still use these women for this purpose. Take the money that the podium girls are being paid and use it to support women’s racing. Small change in the scheme of things perhaps, but symbolic. Race organisers that use “podium girls” (and the UCI etc that tacitly allow it) are not serious about equality until this last-century practice disappears.

    See also: Cycling websites that use photographs of disembodied women’s legs and giant novelty cheques.

    • pervertt

      Oh no don’t do that. Keep the podium girls. What would be ridiculous is if they replaced them with podium blokes. Can you imagine Froomie getting a peck on the cheek from a moustached beef cake in Speedoes? Think of the children!

      • winkybiker

        Be careful about assuming your preferences for the “eye candy” are universally shared. Even by the children.

  • Superpilot

    Sadly it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Capitalism means it is a market economy. It is hard enough to see cycling at all on the global media stage, male or female. You are only likely to see it if there is a drug scandal or someone from your country has succeeded at the highest level. Typically successful stage results for males from your country are broadcast in the mainstream, but only world championship results or overall professional wins for the females, and never with accompanying video coverage.

    The sports fan market is dominated by males. There are of course many ardent female sports supporters, but the majority of sports fans are male. Secondly, many of the female sports fans do not follow the fringe sports such as cycling. So the promoters are left trying to promote a fringe sport to the masses (dominated by males) while relying on an even more fringe group of enthusiastic (but fickle and cynical) cycling fans.

    Sadly this seems to have lead the promotion of female cycling into a sexualised manner in order to appeal to the greatest number of sports fans out there, males.

    Womens tennis is a very good example of buy in from the general sporting public, a significant area of growth seems to be the female viewership and female ticket sales. There is great athleticism, but even experienced male general sports reporters are still reviewing or commenting on womens tennis in a sexualised manner.

    You look at the popularity of some of the players and it is their looks and what they wear that dominate many conversations.

    Womens surfing is the epitome of sexualisation in order to promote, and if I had daughters, I would be very sad about the state of affairs that their idols feel the need to surf in the skimpiest of outfits in order to receive attention, therefore sponsorship, therefore funding. There is a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach thinking about that actually.

    It’s like someone wrote in an article, I think it was about a womens kit instagram hashtag. Was excellent. She said you don’t need to make clothes to look good on a model, you need to get them to appeal to everyone when they try them on. Sausage legs, ugh!

    And yet, even the brands started and run by women rely on typical fashion modelling poses, mostly without bikes or cycling accessories in frame, by thin and young models with full makeup and hair done. Even on the bike, is sterotypical thin cyclist with full makeup.

    And that seems to be what the customer wants the clothing to be promoted as. If the brands used a ‘normal’ looking person, no makeup, sweat dripping, flyaway hair sticking out the helmet, people would link the person to the kit and find it not as inspiring or aspirational, and therefore not buy it. Or would they? At least it seems that way because all the brands are the same.

    I mean I have never seen canckles in cycling advertising, but many of our cycling bretheren in both genders have them, and yet are promoted to by assos man and assos woman! (I note their recent change to more skin coverage in their female advertising, at the behest of USA cycling perhaps) I think that us ‘normal’ shapers don’t like to be reminded of things that we don’t like about ourselves.

    It goes for the lack of ethnic minorities in our sport as well. It really angers me the television advertising you see day in and day out for all kinds of brands are misrepresentative of the population mix in the country in question, particularly english speaking countries.

    Anywho, I totally agree with equality of genders. Paying equally though, the promoters need that growth in the womens cycling market to flow through increased eyeballs on the races to help pay for it. That requires males and females. To get the males, I can appreciate the athleticism, but sadly it seems to get the attention of a majority of males, they require that sexualisation, the Sports Illustrated naked issue, the racy calenders, and those farking podium girls. Yuck

    Below the elite level it is also a market, dominated by males, the income generated from the higher demand of the male entrants subsidises the prizes of the women in an equal pay situation. I think if there is to be equal pay, it has to be where there is the capability of this kind of subsidisation as far as promoters are concerned. This would be a mixed gender event. Hence why UCI worlds and CX races are able to do so, but the stand alone womens races will struggle to do so as the coverage just isn’t there.

    But look at the Warny, equal prize money, and a well known vlog shows that there are only 3 female entrants. The promoter stuck their neck out for equality, yet the riders haven’t followed through. I applaud the promoter, but am saddened that it will be seen as a burden by them, and now by other promoters. I really enjoyed coverage of the females in the Warny last year.

    You definately could, as the promoter in the webcast is, do equal prize money for every race on principal. Like everything it is a cost to be recouped by coverage, ticket, grant and sponsorhip income, and sadly if it doesn’t stack up, it doesn’t stack up for many money focussed promoters.

    Budget carefully, and it can be done is the message here. Bankrupting cycling in search of a moralistic resolve is not the way to go.

    But as many have noted, cycling is seemingly sick below that World Tour level, and promoters are trying to skimp everywhere they can. all the while running at losses. Secondly, the majority of womens races on the WT have no relation whatsoever to a mens event, and so must stand on their own two feet.

    Saying the Giro Rosa and Giro are equivalent in terms of their relative prestige to each gender is true, however the market does not value them as independently prestigious as each other, otherwise there would be just as much worth in the tv and media rights and sponsorship dollars flying in. They are also run independently, Giro Rosa by Epinike Associazione Sportiva Dilettantistica and Giro D’Italia by RCS, so subsidisation cannot occur.

    I have never understood why they can’t run the women pros and male pros on the same course on the same day for more races, double bang for buck for the fans and coverage for both and only one lot of tv/media infrastructure required, Flanders being an excellent example. I loved the cutaway when the women were riding the bergs while the men were tempo, it was perfect to get some action!

    CT has already documented the wage gap between male and female professionals, and it is the teams running on a shoe string with a lower amount of promotion and coverage, they just aren’t able to afford it.

    I’d like them to be able to afford it, I understand the effort and dedication involved is the same between males and females. Many men espouse that the males go faster or further, but the top of the sport is the top of the sport. Just like Tennis.

    The question then becomes, there is no doubt that women do deserve to be paid equally, but how do you grow that area of the sport to be able to sustain it?


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