Women’s peloton survey: wages up for top riders, 43% buying their own gear

by Abby Mickey


Three years after the first women’s cycling union was founded there have been some noticeable changes within the women’s peloton, according to a survey done by the riders via the Cyclists’ Alliance (CA). Some of these changes are for the better, while some have created new issues.

According to the survey, more riders are making no salary than before, there’s growing wage disparity, riders believe there’s be no improvement in rider safety protocols, and more riders are seeking legal advice before signing contracts.

Riejanne Markus (CCC Liv) and Alena Amialiusik (Canyon//SRAM) pictured during Ronde van Vlaanderen, 2020

Notable improvements for the riders include the number of riders who reach out for legal advice when signing a new contract. In the men’s professional peloton having an agent to manage contract negotiations for the rider is quite common, but as the women make significantly less money, the vast majority are going without any help to argue on their own. In 2019, 16% of the riders surveyed sought legal advice, while in 2020 the number of riders increased to 23%.

This may come as a shock, but 43% of riders were required to reimburse their trade teams for things like equipment, medical, or travel costs. The good news is that number has dropped from 51% in 2019.

Of the riders who participated in the survey, 25.5% are making more than 30,000 euros a year. There is a minimum salary of 15,000 euros for riders employed by their team and 24,600 euros for self-employed riders, but these standards apply only to WorldTour teams. This means that the disparity between riders making a livable salary and those making nothing at all is widening.

Professional riders making no money at all increased from 17% last year to 25% this year. UCI Continental teams do not have any minimum salary requirements, and with only eight Women’s WorldTour teams, there is still a large percentage of the peloton making less than 15,000 euros while competing in the same events.

Unsurprisingly, the newest concern for riders is the pandemic, with 29% of the peloton working with a partial or complete salary loss and more than two-thirds of the peloton afraid for their future in the sport. The women’s peloton is not solely affected by this issue, there have been men’s teams that have also suffered from budget cuts this year, and a few that have been forced to fold altogether.

The start line at stage 8 of the Giro Rosa in Montecorvino, Italy.

One thing that remains an issue and has not seen any improvements in 2020 is inadequate race safety and safety protocols. Similar to the issues related to COVID-19, this is not something reserved for the women’s peloton.

As a whole, the women’s peloton appears to be headed in a positive direction. The UCI, it seems, are taking the growth of the sport more seriously and holding stakeholders to account, as is evident by the demotion of the Giro Rosa, the only Women’s Grand Tour, from WorldTour status after their lack of live television coverage as well as other logistical concerns.

With average salaries on the rise throughout the WorldTour teams, the talent is beginning to disperse, and hopefully, that will lead to a very exciting 2021. While the peloton is on track to become more professional, where riders don’t need to hold second jobs to pay their rent, there are also still areas that need attention.

The feature image is of Marianne Vos and Pauliena Rooijakkers after stage 8 of the Giro Rosa in 2020.

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