Rant - The UCI and Women's Cycling

6:24 AM

“Not really.  I am working really hard, each time I have to race really hard to win.  …It would be nice if women’s cycling was more popular in general.  But it’s a vicious cycle with sponsoring and the media with women’s cycling, though.”   
- Marianne Vos on being asked by UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani if she was killing the sport.
Seriously.  He asked Marianne Vos if she was killing the sport with her dominance.  What a ridiculous question to ask the five time World Cyclocross Champion.  I cannot imagine this same question being put to Lance Armstrong, I just can’t.  Thankfully Vos answered the question with more tact and diplomacy that I would have been able to muster, but can we now openly acknowledge that the UCI has no interest in promoting or supporting women cyclists?  I mean…
“What can be said?  Pat McQuaid’s a dick.  To say at the biggest sporting event of women’s cycling that we’re not progressed enough to have a minimum salary, I mean, how do we progress if we all still have to work and we can’t support ourselves?”   
- Chole Hosking responding to UCI President Pat McQuaid’s comments that women cyclists do not deserve a minimum salary.
The fact that we are here, in 2012, still talking about the most basic economic support for women cyclists through a minimum wage is astounding.  The UCI is disappointing as an organization on so many levels, but every time one of them opens his (always his) mouth about women in sport my rage hits the stratosphere.  I grew up in a post-Title IX America, but McQuaid and his ilk seem to exist not just on a different continent, but in a different century.

Clearly, the answers do not reside in the UCI.  I think it would be more productive to take the fight to the sponsors, who know the economic pull of women in the marketplace.  Take the USGP of Cyclocross, where Exergy stepped up and ensured parity in the prize money.  They also put together a full day of amateur races with each pro event that draw large crowds of women (and men) to race and share their love of the bike. 

Let’s face it, cycling is an expensive sport, but a quick jaunt through an Athleta store will let you know that women are prepared to spend some good money on athletic pursuits.  Cycling needs to work against some unfortunate guy-centric stereotypes to draw women into the sport, and it has to involve something more than making a pink jersey.  

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