Union tug-of-war: CPA Women calls for unity in bid to represent pro peloton

by Dane Cash


The women’s peloton has two different unions vying to represent it, and the battle between them only seems likely to heat up from here on out. On Tuesday, one of those two organizations – specifically, the one that has been less publicly vocal in recent months – made a call for unity.

Since 2017, two organizations have sought to serve as the labor union of note for female professional cyclists. The CPA (Cyclistes Professionnels Associés), which also represents the men’s peloton, added a women’s chapter that year, while 2017 also saw the foundation of The Cyclists’ Alliance, a separate organization formed by Iris Slappendel, Carmen Small, and Gracie Elvin that has rapidly gained support in the peloton.

Recently, the UCI conspicuously referenced its consultations with the CPA Women as regards plans for the revision of the racing calendar amid coronavirus concerns, but The Cyclists’ Alliance has more than a hundred members and has represented female cyclists in numerous cases involved their teams and contracts. It has also been the more vocal of the two organizations in making public calls for action on a variety of issues.

Meanwhile, the wider CPA has faced growing discontent in the men’s peloton recently, with more than 300 hundred riders signing a petition seeking reform amid frustrations that the organization is not representing their interests.

Against the backdrop of discontent in both the men’s and women’s pelotons, the CPA held a virtual General Assembly meeting last week—and the CPA has since sent out a press release with a message from CPA Women coordinator and former world road champ Alessandra Cappellotto that seems intent on emphasizing the CPA’s value, as well as calling for unity (assumedly behind the CPA). The Cyclists’ Alliance is not mentioned in the press release.

Cappellotto said that the CPA Women wants “all women riders in the world, wherever they are, to feel like proud members of the CPA.” The organization’s press release noted that both the riders in attendance and UCI president David Lappartient heard that message at the recent General Assembly meeting, before outlining some of the CPA’s successes.

“In only [a] few years we have already achieved several important goals: We have obtained higher prize money, we have improved racing logistics, we have provided legal advice to athletes who had issues with their teams, we have tried to resolve disputes that arose in the transition from one team to another, we have made advantageous agreements for the athletes,” Cappellotto said.

“Collaboration with the UCI, race organizers and team managers is proactive and it has grown stronger during this critical period of the Covid-19 pandemic. In order to promote the growth of the movement, we need to be even more united and to work together.”

Whether that happens behind the CPA or The Cyclists’ Alliance remains to be seen.

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