It’s not all talk of custom carbon wheels and new products
in cycling - there’s some really positive news coming from the women’s cycling
world - after it was announced that a new organisation has been formed that
will represent the interests of female professional cyclists. This follows a
recent study which revealed extensive concerns among women cyclists surrounding
contracts, wages and rider safety.
The new organisation was founded by Iris Slappendel,
Gracie Elvin and Carmen Small, and the trio state that the main aims are to “be
a resource and a cohesive voice for professional cyclists in order to promote
and protect athlete safety and enhance professionalism within the sport”.
From the outside, people may not have realised that there
was a need for such an organisation, but the results of two separate studies
showed a serious need for developments to be made when it comes to representing
women pro cyclists.
Former pro rider, Slappendel said when discussing the new
organisation: “We sent out the surveys in February and April to get a sense of
the biggest concerns and issues riders face, and if there was any interest or
demand for a riders’ union.
“The response rate was incredible. Riders from every
UCI-registered team participated, and we garnered well over 200 unique
responses. The overwhelming message from the women’s peloton was clear: change
needs to happen for the sport to grow, and the time is now,” she added.
Survey data results concluded that a significant 46.9% of
riders reported that they earn £4415 or less per year and 17.5% did not get
paid at all.
The Cyclists’ Alliance cited that an overwhelming 90% of respondents
signed a contract with a UCI-registered team without seeking legal advice.
The next step will be for the organisation to be granted
official recognition by cycle sport’s global governing body, the Union Cycliste
Internationale (UCI). It hopes this will have gone through in time for the 2018
Road World Championships in September. There are also hopes that the two
parties will be able to reach an agreement on a minimum wage for female pro
riders, as well as a blanket contract as standard.
“Men’s professional cycling developed slowly over nearly 100 years of
traditions which, over time, have been reinforced by political rivalries and
economic decisions which have limited the sport’s opportunities,” said Small.
“Women’s professional cycling can, and must be, a sport
which forges a new path that does not follow the template of the men’s sport.
The women’s sport can accomplish this by uniting the interests of its labour
force – namely, the women athletes who are the lifeblood of every competition —
and the image that the sport portrays to the greater public.”