Cycling news - ‘Not the right message to send’ – Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig on equal pay debate
Equal pay within cycling has been a hot topic in the past few weeks as the disparity between the men’s and women’s peloton has been shown up. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, who finished fifth in the recent Strade Bianche, hailed the fundraising efforts but said that it sends out the wrong message that the gap is so big.
Podium / Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig of Denmark and Team FDJ Nouvelle - Aquitaine Futuroscope Green Mountain Jersey / Celebration / Mask / Covid safety measures / during the 31st Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile 2020, Stage 9 a 109,9km stage from Motta Mo
Writing on Instagram, Uttrup Ludwig, who finished fifth in the race, said: “I was thrilled to see the amount of people engaging and expressing their opinion.
“I was furthermore impressed by the fact that more than a thousand people donated through a crowdfunding initiative for equal prize money in Strade Bianche, reaching 26,633 Euros. A massive show of support from fans across the world stating that such a huge discrepancy in prize money isn't fair. This is simply a fantastic gesture and they all have my profound gratitude.
“You might argue that the large prize money disparity isn’t the most pressing issue women’s cycling is facing. That worldwide TV exposure is a more important matter and is the fundamental key to attract sponsorships. Sponsorships helps grow our sport, making it possible for more women to earn a living wage in cycling. I definitely acknowledge when organisers prioritise to invest in improved TV coverage and I understand it takes time to reach equality. We need to be patient.
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“But in general I still believe that we should always be able to point out things that are obviously unfair. We should be able to challenge the status quo to make sure that we keep progressing. I believe it’s important to debate issues that need improvement because in that way we progress faster.
"On a side note I’ve heard some people argue that it is not worthwhile increasing our prize money. Because the prize money befalls the riders that already earn high salaries.
“I think it’s important to remember that we split the prize money between the six riders who participated in the race. And for some riders (even on Women’s WorldTeams) this money is actually a necessary (or at least very welcome) supplemental income. Bear in mind that the minimum salary for an employee on a Women’s WorldTeam in 2021 is 20,000 Euros.
"Last but not least, one could ask oneself if the UCI should step in and help with regulations? I mean for the time being the minimum prize money of a Women's WorldTour one-day race is only 1/10 of the winner of a men's WorldTour race. Personally I don’t think that’s the right message to send.”
"In my sport the prize fund is dictated by the organiser, it’s not dictated by the world governing body, it’s the organiser’s decision how they split the prize pot," she told Eurosport.
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I just don’t understand, are we seven times less valuable than the men’s race? I don’t think so.
“I think we put on a great, great show - so why is this happening? It happens time and time again, and we’re really fighting a losing battle here, why wouldn’t you change this?
"It’s such an easy thing to change and this money isn’t going to make a difference to the men in the same way that it would make a difference to the women."
Wiggins – Women are just a secondary story
In the first episode of the new season of The Bradley Wiggins Show by Eurosport, former Tour de France winner Wiggins was joined by broadcaster Laura Winter and presenter Graham Willgoss to discuss the pay issue and the trio echoed Banks’ comments.
Wiggins said: "We haven’t seen him [UCI president David Lappartient] since the Tour de France last year, and he said within two years they were hopeful of having a women’s Tour de France, but we don’t know what it’s going to be called yet.
"We’re getting to March already, the Tour de France is a couple of months away, so it will be one year. I can pre-empt this now getting pushed aside and going, ‘We’re still not in a position to have a women’s Tour de France next year,’ which is all it is now.
It seems a constant theme, a constant story, where the women are just a secondary story. We need some leadership from David Lappartient, and I don’t think we get that enough.
Winter added: "I feel like I’ve been talking about this since about 2014 or 2015, and it never seems to go away. What’s being lost is how bloody brilliant women’s racing actually is.
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"I hate the fact I’ve even just said women’s racing, because it’s just racing. It’s just bike racing and cycling, and it doesn’t matter what’s between your legs on the bike! It’s just good sport.
"On the prize money debate, I know there are lots of different opinions flying around. For me, I think with prize money the rich get richer, and often if you’ve got SD Worx winning week in, week out - which is looking the way at the moment - that is not necessarily going to benefit the whole of women’s cycling. It isn’t this golden ticket that is going to fix women’s cycling, it’s one piece of a big puzzle.
What the shocking disparity [in prize money] screams out to me is, ‘we value women less.’ That is what it says quite clearly, and that is appalling optics for would-be sponsors, for sponsors looking to come into the sport.