Your Tuesday Daily News Digest

by Mark Zalewski

January 24, 2017

In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: The Status of Women’s Cycling – Part 1: A Discussion with Iris Slappendel; British Cycling CEO steps-down earlier than expected; Nicole Cooke to give testimony to British Parliament committee; Promising British cyclocross racer passes away; Former U23 World Champion dies of heart attack; Thalita De Jong out of World Championships; Equal prize money for 2017 HSBC UK National Women’s Road Series; Boonen to ride disc brakes during final season; Sport doping documentary that began with cycling premieres at Sundance; Multiple lawsuits filed over new Lemond carbon fibre company; Wiggins says reality TV decision based on maintaining fitness; Telenet UCI World Cup Hoogerheide highlights; Backstage Pass – Tour Down Under final stages.

The Status of Women’s Cycling – Part 1: A Discussion with Iris Slappendel

by CyclingTips

The Outer Line begins a multi-part series delving into the current state of women’s pro cycling. Part one is a detailed discussion with recently retired racer Iris Slappendel, one of pro cycling’s emerging leaders, and a passionate voice for both articulating the challenges and improving the opportunities for women in the sport. Here is an excerpt:

Iris Slappendel finished her pro career with American team United Healthcare.

Indeed, Slappendel has discovered a new energy and life purpose in giving back to the sport which she loves. She is now very focused on helping to make a difference in the careers of current women racers, as well as those who have yet to clip in at a start line. She speaks with her former competitors often – to stay on top of things, and to better represent the peloton. “I don’t take the position for granted. I feel like the Athletes Commission and helping the women is my true calling, but at the same time, I don’t have a lot of influence yet.”

Although she has had generally positive experiences working with the UCI, Slappendel is keenly aware that there are very few women at the senior level within UCI management. “I think the UCI really wants to listen. They listen to us in the Athletes Commission, and they listen to me.” But, at the same time, she says the women’s needs are typically not the first business priority of the UCI’s stakeholders. “For example, if a new men’s race is discussed,” Slappendel observes, “they (the UCI) are all for it, but usually we have to ask, ‘Can we also have a women’s race?’”

Currently, only Tracey Gaudry holds a Vice President’s post inside the UCI, although other active and former racers Marianne Vos, Katie Compton, Georgia Gould, Greta Neimanas, Anna Meares as well as Slappendel are able to contribute ideas – but not vote – in various advisory Committees. This is an important motivation for Slappendel, who says “I want to change this from a ‘voice’ to a ‘vote’ in the near future.”

Slappendel fully understands the range of challenges which the sport faces; she rode for six different teams during her long career, and saw first-hand how the sport’s growth strained its participants, without the corresponding and badly needed upgrades in governance and economic support. Many of her more talented peers simply gave up, Slappendel says, because of chronically low salaries, limited opportunities to race at top events, or because they found themselves in manipulative or even abusive situations. “There is always a moment where each girl has to decide for herself – to ask ‘is this really worth it? I have a university degree, but I only get paid €300 a month – if I get paid at all. Do I really want to risk my life every day, for this?’”

Click through to read more at The Outer Line.