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Top women pros say they deserve minimum-salary guarantee

  • By Andrew Hood
  • Published Sep. 24, 2011

COPENHAGEN (VN) — Women racers say the time has come for the UCI to treat them the same as their male counterparts when it comes to earning a living.

But when pressed by journalists during a press conference Saturday morning, UCI president Pat McQuaid said that women’s racing has not developed to the point that a minimum salary should be introduced for women’s teams.

“I am not so sure,” McQuaid said. “We have an agreement in men’s sport, but women’s cycling has not developed enough that we are at that level yet.”

That drew the ire of the top medalists in Saturday’s elite women’s road race.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, the bronze medalist, said the level of women’s cycling has improved dramatically over the past half decade or so.

“I think it’s total bullshit. We’ve seen over the last couple of years, it’s getting harder and harder, you cannot come to a race to win if you’re not fit. The women deserve it,” the German veteran said.

“I don’t know why the men get this guarantee with a contract and the women don’t. We deserve equal rights. We are living in the 21st century.”

Marianne Vos echoed those comments, saying it’s unfair for women not to receive a minimum salary from top pro teams.

“We do a lot for the sport as well. The women’s cycling is becoming more professional,” Vos said. “Why should there be a difference between men and women?”

Minimum salaries for top men pros are outlined in the UCI’s rulebook, with ProTeam squads required to pay a 30,000-euro minimum, with slightly less for Pro Continental teams.

Women teams, however, have no such required minimums. Top pro teams, such as HTC-Highroad and Garmin-Cervélo, have helped raise the bar for women’s racing and typically pay their riders above-average salaries.

Top pros like Vos can earn up to 80,000 euros per season, but many women pros receive salaries as low as 6,000 euros per season. One journalist who covers the women’s scene closely said up to a quarter of the women’s peloton is not paid at all.

One trend is that top teams are adding a women’s division to their squads, something that McQuaid says the UCI encourages, but cannot force the top pro men’s teams to do.

“We cannot make them invest money, but we do encourage them to have a development team, either younger men or women’s teams,” McQuaid said. “We will continue them to have such teams, including women’s teams.”

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Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood

Andrew Hood cut his journalistic teeth at Colorado dailies before the web boom opened the door to European cycling in the mid-1990s. Hood has covered every Tour de France since 1996 and has been VeloNews' European correspondent since 2002.

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