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  • Gavin Adkins

    Devastating stuff. Hats off to Ellen for such a measured insight into her experience. However, all of this just confirms my view that the USA is a much better destination for Australian women road riders. I know people say that road racing in Europe is the pinnacle of the sport, but there’s nothing ‘prestigious’ about being treated like shit.

    The worst part is that the UCI are entirely complicit with the exploitation of riders. Arbitrarily pissing about with riders’ pay, women or men, should be completely unacceptable. If a team fails to pay riders in accordance with the terms of the contracts they issue, they should be shut down and the team manger given an extended holiday from all forms of the sport. It is the only way this will stop.

    • Cycling Fan

      1) if one story (data point) confirms your view is that not confirmation bias ?
      2) stories like this exist of riders racing on US teams as well
      3) there are many reasons why someone could not be paid including sponsors not fronting up with sponsorship so it’s not always a black and white team problem as you have simplified everything as
      4) how much knowledge do we have as to what power the UCI actually has legally in these situations? Why assume they are ‘complicit’ with only one side of the story?

      • Robert Merkel

        Nicole Cooke’s memoirs contain a number of tales along similar lines – and she was at the very top of the tree.

        Yes, this kind of stuff happens in the men’s peloton as well (witness Team Colombia) and I don’t doubt it happens in the States, but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

        The UCI requires men’s WT and Pro Conti teams to front up with a bank guarantee to ensure riders are paid their agreed salary; I don’t think it’d be too outrageous for the top women’s teams to do the same.

        One thing that’s well within the UCI’s power is to refuse race entries if teams aren’t paying contracted salaries.

      • Gavin Adkins

        1) Guilty as charged.
        2) No doubt, at least you speak the same language though.
        3) Not a reasonable excuse. An enforceable bank or personal guarantee should be required to register a team.
        4) They are the governing body. They make the rules and they (are meant to) enforce the rules.
        5) Don’t know. I’m a paid up member of a national federation affiliated with the UCI and I’m not happy with their performance. Is that not enough basis to complain? Does the customer have to show all their working?

        • Cycling Fan

          No need to show workings but more context is clearly needed – tighten things up -> lose teams -> complaints about not enough opportunities etc – fwiw I agree it needs reviewing and bad teams actually de-registered, as well as the fact that there are way too many ‘pro’ women’s teams in general – a clear dileniation between pro and say pro conti etc. All that being said though there are cases (not implying in this example) of riders taking known risks of these things happening in their desperation to ‘make it’ so there’s an amount of risk taking as well

          • DaveRides

            In principle, I would support introducing a Pro Continental equivalent to women’s racing, to sit above the current “UCI Women’s Team” structure which is essentially the same as a men’s Continental team (i.e. open division, not fully pro or fully amateur). Once this is established, teams in the lower (open) level could be banned from registering using a name which contains “pro” – something that should also be applied to Continental teams.

            In practice, what is missing is something to enough value to make that a worthwhile investment.

            Men’s cycling has entry to the Tour de France and other such big races as the reward which justifies investment in quality professional teams. Women’s cycling doesn’t have anything creating that sort of value, so why not simply use the same incentive as the men’s teams have? When promotion and relegation returns to the WorldTour in 2019, allow teams which are linked with an all-professional women’s team to count the women’s team points towards their own total for promotion/relegation purposes.

            • Cycling Fan

              Huh? are you saying that men’s teams that have a women’s team get to use women’s teams points for promotion/relegation in men’s WT?! If so then theres simply not enough money even in pro men’s teams to support every team having a women’s team therefore you would have a very artificial promotion/relegation system and someone would be off to CAS – sorry I really can’t see that as 1) happening or 2) beneficial to either women’s or men’s side of sport

              • DaveRides


                The UCI is giving preferential treatment to race organisers who invest in both men’s and women’s races at the same event (look at which races have been elevated to UWT and/or WWT status for 2017, it’s a very clear pattern) so the logical extension is to also apply it to teams as well.

                Running teams under the same banner is a tried and proven strategy which has, in other pro sports, led to increased status for the women’s teams and also increased attendance and TV ratings for the men’s teams. Most significantly, many of the new viewers you get in this scenario are women and girls (currently a mostly untapped market for professional cycling) which brings in a huge amount of money thanks to the disproportionate power over purchasing decisions held by women in western societies.

                The current rankings system is already compromised, so a system set up to prioritise the teams which invest in the sport more holistically would actually be a step forward in that the end served by the means would actually be clear.

                I agree that it probably won’t happen because the UCI rejects any wisdom they didn’t invent, but I disagree with your ignorant statement that it wouldn’t be beneficial. The results of other sports doing it speak for themselves.

                • Cycling Fan

                  Mate you give the UCI way too much credit for having control over the economics of the sport – they don’t control team sponsorship funding, what broadcasters choose to broadcast or not, or even the funding of events – neither do they as a non profit organisation have the necessary funds to artificially adjust supply of any of these areas – I also remain unconvinced they are giving preferential treatment to any organisers because they have a women’s event – ASO were already wt events and strade more likely because of the popularity of the event and the fact it’s an RCS race – the new wt events are mainly about having a global footprint of races so I think you confusing correlation and causation to be fair – please give examples of sports where there are dual sex teams and point to quantifiable evidence that the addition of a women’s team has increased the following of the men’s team – this sounds like a theory you have so I would to see evidence not personal observation:)

                  • Cycling Fan

                    Like to see that should have been and probably opinion is a better word than observation ;)

                • Cycling Fan

                  If you haven’t picked up on the fact that they are both (men’s and women’s) run relatively independently and that the UCI can’t ‘force’ a sponsor to cough up even more money for a women’s team as well + if you try to force men’s teams to fund a women’s team as well a lot of them can’t actually afford it and will leave sport then you may want to do more due dilligence on business/governance models and be careful who you label ignorant :)

    • Cycling Fan

      5) was the wage issue reported to the UCI? If so what was the result of that report made? What actions have been taken? too easy to fire shots at UCI without more context on the situation

  • jules

    the shenanigans of team managers and owners aside, my instinctive reaction to this fantastic post is one of respect and admiration for Ellen in having the guts to put it on the line and give it a go. I’ve led a relatively privileged upbringing (just a normal Aussie one, with family and stable job) and it’s easy to take that for granted. those blokes you see strutting around the CBD in Italian suits, discussing whether to lease a Porsche or BMW next? they’re nothing. typically private school education, influential and wealthy parents, connections, good jobs all but guaranteed. life begins when you step outside your comfort zone.

    • Cycling Fan

      Wow Jules ???? profiling people much ?!

  • marc

    Great article Ellen – good on you for having a crack and for be able to recognise the pros and cons and move on, no doubt to better things. Kudos.

  • michael moran

    Excellent writing Ellen, very interesting. I am glad you shared this with us.

  • david

    Excellent article, thanks. Had tried to follow your progress with limited success and wondered what the future held, all the best.

    It will be interesting to compare Ellen’s experience with that of Chloe Hosking and Carlee Taylor over the coming season.

  • Chloe Hosking

    Thanks for the shoutout David. I am also looking forward the experience in 2017. I think Ellen’s blog brings up a lot of interesting things for women — and men — to consider if/when they take the plunge and head over to Europe chasing the elusive dream of becoming a professional cyclist. It has definitely lit some fire beneath my fingers, maybe it’s about time I got around to writing my next blog for Ella about my experiences when it came to racing and living in Europe in my greener years.

    There is a lot to be considered in the article and I’ll make sure to address them with a more experienced perspective.

    • david

      Great to hear from you and looking forward to upcoming blog posts, thanks.

  • antoine

    Ale Cippo is more to blame, it would have been very different in another european team.
    And every european country is different.

    • Stefan Eckardt

      I was thinking along the same lines, that this does not paint a rosy picture of her team. I understand there will be issues, but it seems that some things could have been communicated up front or at least early on in the season. Seems a bit unprofessional of the team, but we’ve only heard one side of the story. Ale-Cipo is what I would consider maybe a half-step below the Wiggle/Plantur/Boels Dolmans/etc. teams, but a big step above the small fish and is capable of handlding the whole thing better.
      Used to work for the US branch of an Italian company and I can say good communication was not their strong suit either, so maybe it’s a cultural thing? Seems like they assumed a lot.

  • Lukas Knöfler

    “Ella CyclingTips sought comment from Ale Cipollini Galassia. No reply was received.”
    Did you seek comment from them in Italian? ;-)

    • Stefan Eckardt

      LOL. Think Ale-Cipo dropped the ball and they know it, that’s how I am reading this.

  • Allez Rouleur

    Wow, incredible how much mental strength it must have taken to go through all of this. I played college sports here in the U.S. and was taken care of better! (though not paid) When you compare what she went through to say…some guy in the NBA, it is truly staggering how different things are in various sports. No communication for three months? Cut wages?! Crazy.

    Best of luck going forward!


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