The peloton on stage 1 of the Lotto Thuringen Ladies Tour.

Wage disparity gap grows in women’s peloton

According to survey findings from The Cyclists Alliance, the number of professional riders earning no salary has increased from 17% in 2018 to 34% this year.

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The Cyclists’ Alliance has published some of the results of its annual survey, revealing a variety of findings gleaned from responses to the “Working Conditions” section of the questionnaire.

Among the new information published based on the answers of 97 pros are details on the way in which riders are compensated – and the growing disparity between those who are and are not paid salaries. According to the survey, the number of professional riders earning no salary has increased from 17% in 2018 to 34% this year.

The UCI has implemented a mandatory salary for the UCI Women’s World Tour teams (currently nine teams) of €20,000 a year for employed riders and €32,800 for self-employed riders. In total, there are about 160 riders on the UCI Women’s WorldTour teams. They indicate a 25% increase in salaries with 2% earning over a €100,000 a year.

However, there are no rules at all for the 49 UCI Continental women’s teams, which are composed of almost 800 riders. In the survey, 60% of respondents on Continental teams indicated that they receive no salary whatsoever from their team. 

The survey has only questioned 1 in 10 UCI registered riders, so the target group is small, but the trend of more women not being paid a salary at all is evident. In total, 86% of those surveyed said that they “believe salaries are too low for the level of commitment for women cyclists.”

The disparity in the ways WorldTour and non-WorldTour riders are compensated goes beyond salaries to include other benefits. According to the survey, 94% of WorldTour riders reported receiving medical benefits as part of their contract, while only 33% of Continental riders reported the same.

The published findings also revealed that 39% of respondents work a second job, while 38% are studying either in secondary school, vocational courses, or at the university level, and 14% are both working a second job and studying at the same time.

More broadly, respondents were asked to select their priorities for The Cyclists’ Alliance to focus on in its advocacy work in the future. The two items tied atop the list of topics were for “all riders to earn a minimum salary” and “increasing the live TV coverage of races.”

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