TEXT / BBB CYCLING | PHOTOS / COR VOS & STEFAN RACHOW
It’s not that long ago that female cyclists had to change in their cars and vans, while men’s teams had a professional bus with all the necessary facilities. Inequality in cycling, as well as lack of diversity, has been a hot topic in the last year. We think it’s great to see that cycling teams, individual riders, ex-pro’s, and organizations such as The Cyclists’ Alliance have been speaking up about this issue. At BBB Cycling we don’t just want to participate in the discussion, but we want to actively help to fast forward equal rights for women in cycling.
Part of a widespread problem
Women have been fighting for the same rights as men for a very long time. Things are changing for the better, but this is only the beginning. Inequality is present everywhere in sports. Media tend to represent female athletes as women first and athletes second. Women in sports only receive 4% of the entire media coverage, compared to men. Also due to COVID-19 a lot of women's sports were canceled while alternatives were found for men. These are just some of the many inequalities in sports.
The biggest race setting the worst example
Inequality is also happening in cycling. The Tour de France is a great example where the elite men receive a 3-week coverage, lots of media attention before, during, and after the race, and also lots of sponsors who want to jump on the bandwagon because of the attention that it’s getting. Whereas the women get to cycle one or two stages, there is little to no media attention and the pay is about 1% of what the men are receiving. It’s a vicious cycle.
Better, faster, stronger!
Regarding equal pay and prize money, there is still a lot of ground to be gained. After Omloop het Nieuwsblad this year, the amount of prize money was published that Anna van der Breggen received €930 for winning the race, and her male counterpart, Ballerini, won a total of €16,000. It caused a great uproar resulting in crowdfunding and making a statement to the UCI that unequal treatment cannot go on any longer.
Especially if you consider the increased quality in the women's peloton. The women are faster, stronger, and better than ever before and the number of strong women entering the peloton is growing year on year.
The Cyclists’ Alliance
One of the organizations fighting for equal rights is The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA). They provide holistic support to female cyclists during and after their careers. Their main aim is that 100% of female cyclists in the pro peloton benefit from a safe and stable working environment.
They are a nonprofit organization purely funded by donations and subscriptions. TCA doesn’t just tackle irregular pay, routine mistreatment, and sexual discrimination but they also offer individual support on topics like contract negotiations, salaries and insurance, medical advice, and a rider mentor program.
You would think that professional teams offer this basic support, but this is not the case. There is still a big difference between men's and women's cycling teams; it’s a lot more professionalized for men. It’s therefore great that TCA can help these women in case teams don’t offer support.
Advocating women cycling
At BBB Cycling we want to step up for equal rights in women's cycling. Women deserve the same rights as men. Period. Our aim is to advocate for women's cycling by giving them and TCA a podium to be heard. We will continue and seek growth in supporting individual female riders and women cycling teams, such as Team Parkhotel and Team Andy Schleck, by providing equipment, promoting their activities, and working on activations together. We want to share behind the scene footage with the public, showing real-life situations that happen before and after races. We will also promote The Cyclists’ Alliance, giving them an extra channel to get their message into the world and find supporters.
Women taking it to the top
Since cycling is seeing a growing number of women taking up cycling, female role models are needed. By showing our followers more female cycling content, we hope to make women even more enthusiastic about cycling and empower them to start a career in cycling.
Women are also underrepresented in the cycling industry. At BBB Cycling we want to change that. By hiring more women, including ex-professional cyclists kickstarting their corporate career. We already have some ex-professional riders working in our company. As well as pro riders working part-time at BBB Cycling and racing professionally at the same time. We hope to be able to support them by letting our people help mentor ex-female cyclists and make them feel right at home.
This year’s International Women’s Day is all about choosing to challenge. Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility while calling out inequality. That’s exactly what we are planning to do. Not just on one day, but for many years to come.
Do you have ideas on how to support our mission? We love to hear from you!