Support road.cc

Like this site? Help us to make it better.

news

Equal prize money row after Anna van der Breggen gets €930 for winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad... while men's winner bags €16,000

Flanders Classics CEO Thomas Van Der Spiegel says the dispute deflects from steps it is taking towards equality for women's racing...

The lack of parity of prize money in men’s and women’s professional bike racing has come under the spotlight once again due to the huge difference in the amounts won by the male and female winners of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad at the weekend – although the CEO of Flanders Classics, which organises the race, says the focus on that issue deflects from other steps that it is taking to try and achieve equality in the sport.

The winner of the men’s race, Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Davide Ballerini, won €16,000 for his efforts as highlighted by an Instagram post from Internationalles, the women’s cycling group who campaign for gender equality in cycling. Parto of this includes their annual ride of the entire Tour de France route, a day ahead of the main race.

The group highlighted that world road champion Anna van der Breggen of SD Worx, who won the women’s edition of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, got just €930 – just 5.5 per cent of the winners’ pool for the two races.

However, Thomas Van Der Spiegel, CEO of Flanders Classics, defended the allocation, saying on Twitter: “Quite disappointed with all the reactions we are getting about prize money after all the financial investments we have continuously made into women’s cycling for years now.

“This year alone around 6 figures were invested into moving the race up a category and into a first time TV production. If equal pay is all you are asking for you clearly have no idea about the challenges women’s cycling is still facing.

“Of course we will keep investing, we will try to stay the driver for change and we will keep pushing for equality in cycling in the near future,” he added.

A lot of the work Van Der Spiegel mentions will be happening behind the scenes, and in not providing equal prize money, many would see the organisation as having scored an own-goal.

For others, however, the real problem lies in the lack of TV coverage that women’s racing receives, and maintain that by increase both the length and quality of that, the sport will become more attractive to sponsors. This could make teams – which operate on shoestring budgets compared to their male counterparts – and riders less reliant on prize money.

Replying to Van Der Spiegel, Eurosport and GCN commentator José Been pointed out: “Increased prize money mostly goes to the same riders who mostly already make a decent pay. Investments in women’s racing and mostly broadcasting benefits many riders and more importantly many teams who are then able to attract more sponsors and grow the sport further." 

Dutch ex-pro Iris Slappendel, who co-founded the Cyclists’ Alliance – effectively the women’s pro cyclists’ union, which in 2019 was awarded a $75,000 grant from the Rapha Foundation – said in reply to Van Der Spiegel: “Coverage should be priority to grow the sport. Prize money is an easy ‘target’ and should be higher in the future, but also only benefit the top riders that already make a reasonable income. Live coverage benefits everyone. Good discussion, thanks for the perspective.”

One distinction between the two Omloop Het Nieuwsblad races on Sunday is that while the men’s race forms part of the top-flight UCI WorldTour calendar, the women’s edition is not on the UCI Women’s WorldTour schedule, instead being classified as a second-tier 1.Pro race.

But even when races are at the same tier, there can be big discrepancies in prize money. In 2019, for instance, after winning the men’s edition of the Tour of Flanders, which is also organised by Flanders Classics, Alberto Bettiol said it was a “disgrace” that he received €20,000 for his victory, while the first rider home in the women’s race, Marta Bastianelli, only won €1,265.

UCI President David Lappartient has previously outlined the governing body’s intention for the minimum salary for riders in UCI Women’s WorldTour teams to match that of the men’s second-tier UCI ProTeams by 2023.

Trek-Segafredo has gone beyond that, however, announcing earlier this year that the riders on both its men’s and women’s teams would receive the UCI WorldTour minimum salary of €40,045 for those employed directly, or €65,673 for those who are self-employed.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment

55 comments

Avatar
oceandweller | 2 years ago
0 likes

Just a random thought - instead of raising the women's prize money to match the men's, reduce the men's prize money & invest the difference in supporting & promoting women's racing. The winners of big races are generally paid fairly well anyway - not like top flight footballers or golfers obviously but better than, say, hockey players - so it's not the *level* of the prize per se, so much as the fact of winning that matters. I kind of doubt Chris Froome wants that 5th TdF title simply coz he needs the money...

Avatar
STATO | 2 years ago
1 like

I honestly dont understand why many races even have a cash prize for the winner. Why is the winning and trophy (and results in you racing CV) not the main takeaway for pro cycling?

This even more so when it comes to handing out £25 (or often less) at local CX and TT events, won by the same handful of people. How does that make an even better? these people will still race if there was no prize, and the money could be put back into the event, running free entry for kids races or something.

 

 

Avatar
Awavey | 2 years ago
0 likes

A crowdfunding campaign for the Strade Bianche equal prize money for the women's peloton has raised 5,000 euros in just a couple of days,its not the solution ultimately, but I think it sends a strong message to race organisers to stop hiding behind UCI regulations awarding the minimum prizes they can, the money is out there to fix this if they can be bothered to go look for it.

 

Update, the Strade Bianche equal prize money for the women's peloton has raised 12,445 euros now.

 

Update 3, now upto 20,205 Euros...

Avatar
RobD | 2 years ago
3 likes

Perhaps if events paid women similarly to the men more women would choose it as a career. Yes it'll take time to see the effect, but saying that women shouldn't be paid the same for x reasons is just outdated. The women raced the OHN as it was presented to them, they likely wouldn't have complained at riding a longer race, not that it would have made it more entertaining by tacking on more kms, often the shorter nature of women's racing makes it more entertaining, a fact that some of the grand tours have exploited with some shorter more exciting stages, the obsession with super endurance extra long races might make for great stories about the past etc, but often doesn't provide the most exciting racing.

Avatar
Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
1 like

If male winners such as Bettiol feel so strongly about it then is there anything stopping them from giving half of their prize money to the women's winner?  Any contractual obligations not to or similar?

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
3 likes
Rapha Nadal wrote:

If male winners such as Bettiol feel so strongly about it then is there anything stopping them from giving half of their prize money to the women's winner?  Any contractual obligations not to or similar?

I don't think the women need charity. What they need is recognition

Avatar
Simon E replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
0 likes
Captain Badger wrote:

I don't think the women need charity. What they need is recognition

Many of them are unpaid and only get expenses or on a token salary so I'm sure they'd be glad of some money! bob Varney of Drops has always been clear that he has been pushing and pushing to secure enough backing to pay riders but still haven't got to that point yet.

Doesn't prize money usually go to the team and divided up? And even if Bettiol subbed a female rider's salary that doesn't address the problems with funding the women's sport.

Rich_cb wrote:

I imagine that if OHN was forced to have an equally sized prize pot for the Women's race as for the Men's then there would be no further women's editions of the race. Not sure how that would help grow Women's cycling.

Have you not noticed that an increasing number of events are doing exactly that?

You don't grow Women's cycling by offering kiddy prizes and a pat on the head alongside a men's event offering 17 times the amount. Do you actually want to fix the problem or just keep things as they are?

Women should be paid the same as men, whether they are doctors, plumbers, athletes or BBC News presenters.

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
2 likes

I want to solve the problem, you don't solve the problem by bankrupting all the Women's races.

If Women's races are struggling now, with unequal prize money (indicating quite clearly that there is not a surplus of money in these races) how do you think they'll fare with equal prize money?

Many more will be completely unviable.

That would be a disaster for Women's cycling.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

I want to solve the problem, you don't solve the problem by bankrupting all the Women's races. If Women's races are struggling now, with unequal prize money (indicating quite clearly that there is not a surplus of money in these races) how do you think they'll fare with equal prize money? Many more will be completely unviable. That would be a disaster for Women's cycling.

And there is the problem. The women's race is not a separate sideshow to the men's. It is one event with 2 sections. When equal investment and attention is applied to both we can argue there is parity, but for that the organisers have to organise it as such. 

Organisers have had over a century and a half to sort their acts out. They are still dragging their feet.

Avatar
Sriracha replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
1 like
Captain Badger wrote:

When equal investment and attention is applied to both we can argue there is parity, but for that the organisers have to organise it as such.

I don't know much about cycling as a competitive sport, but I guess it is a commercial enterprise undertaken by private companies? So they invest money in the hope of making a viable return on investment, taking into account all the revenues and costs. Or they go bust.

And I suppose that the investment in a women's event does not produce as much return as the same investment in a men's event. I'm not sure what the solution is? I think we are a long way yet from women's sport generating as much money as men's sport, and that has consequences for the economics of the game.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Sriracha | 2 years ago
1 like
Sriracha wrote:
Captain Badger wrote:

When equal investment and attention is applied to both we can argue there is parity, but for that the organisers have to organise it as such.

I don't know much about cycling as a competitive sport, but I guess it is a commercial enterprise undertaken by private companies? So they invest money in the hope of making a viable return on investment, taking into account all the revenues and costs. Or they go bust. And I suppose that the investment in a women's event does not produce as much return as the same investment in a men's event. I'm not sure what the solution is? I think we are a long way yet from women's sport generating as much money as men's sport, and that has consequences for the economics of the game.

The idea that paying women equally will result in the removal of the women's game is nonsense.

A private company should not be running an event that explicitly excludes women. Therefore the event has a men's and a women's category. Equal prize pots to be allocated to each, and equal timings and access to the media.

All events are subject to the same rules, so this is not an issue for competition. In fact, those companies that properly promote the women's section will have a competitive edge over those that don't, as their event will be more interesting, and accessible to a wider audience.

But this requires a forceful change in policy. As long as "the market" is seen as the driver, we will never reach parity - the money will go where it is seen to be safe, resulting in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Avatar
Simon E replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
1 like
Rich_cb wrote:

I want to solve the problem, you don't solve the problem by bankrupting all the Women's races.

The spectre of bankrupting all women's races is quite a leap from improving a drastic imbalance in one race.

Both races are run by the same profitable organisation so your argument is not relevant. As I said, I'm sure that all the workers and contractors on the event will be paid so why not include the participants?

Prize money is far from being the solution but that doesn't mean the glaring disparity shouldn't be addressed (except for those that think a men's race is 17 times better than the women's version).

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
1 like

Whether or not the overall organisation is profitable is irrelevant. If Tesco was profitable overall it wouldn't stop it closing loss making stores. You can't expect a parent company to subsidise a loss making race indefinitely.

In order for women's racing to be viable in the long term the actual women's races need to be profitable in their own regard.

If you demand that prize money is equal with that of the men's events you will ensure that many, perhaps all, women's races are no longer profitable and therefore no longer viable in the long term.

Professional sport is essentially entertainment.

In the entertainment industry you're paid largely based on your popularity, if a lot of people listen to your songs or watch your films you'll get paid more.

In sports it's the same, if you have a lot of fans you'll be paid more, if you have fewer fans you'll be paid less.

In order for women's cycling to attract more fans you need a viable racing calendar.

Making huge swathes of the racing calendar financially unviable will not help to achieve this.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Simon E | 2 years ago
1 like
Simon E wrote:

...

Many of them are unpaid and only get expenses or on a token salary so I'm sure they'd be glad of some money! bob Varney of Drops has always been clear that he has been pushing and pushing to secure enough backing to pay riders but still haven't got to that point yet.

Doesn't prize money usually go to the team and divided up? And even if Bettiol subbed a female rider's salary that doesn't address the problems with funding the women's sport.

Sorry yes badly worded

I meant to say that recompense should not be at the generosity of their male colleagues (charity) but should be set in stone by the organisers (recognition)

I back read it, and no, it didn't come across quite as I intended

 

Avatar
Rapha Nadal replied to Captain Badger | 2 years ago
1 like

But do you not think a winner splitting his prize money might be the gesture which makes somebody sit up & realise how dumb the current situation is and then look to remedy it?

Avatar
mdavidford replied to Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
0 likes

Better would be if all the teams came together before the event and agreed to split the prizes equally whoever won - that would demonstrate a unity and solidarity behind the principle of equal prizes, rather than it being an individual act of good conscience.

Avatar
Captain Badger replied to Rapha Nadal | 2 years ago
1 like
Rapha Nadal wrote:

But do you not think a winner splitting his prize money might be the gesture which makes somebody sit up & realise how dumb the current situation is and then look to remedy it?

It may have a political effect, like a "taking the knee" moment I guess. Be interesting to find out. Next time I win I'll try it out.

Avatar
half_wheel79 | 2 years ago
0 likes

I personally don't think that the women should get the same prize money as the men in this instance, their race is shorter, they don't pull in as many viewers/fans etc etc. 

That said the disparity between the two is appalling, 930 euros ? thats a bloody joke. 

Avatar
Gkam84 replied to half_wheel79 | 2 years ago
1 like
half_wheel79 wrote:

I personally don't think that the women should get the same prize money as the men in this instance, their race is shorter, they don't pull in as many viewers/fans etc etc. 

That said the disparity between the two is appalling, 930 euros ? thats a bloody joke. 

Funny that, in the Netherlands alone, Dutch TV saw approx 330k viewers for the womens race and only 170k for the mens...

Avatar
half_wheel79 replied to Gkam84 | 2 years ago
0 likes

Was it on terestrial tv and the mens on subscription ? Mens racing pulls in the advertising big bucks too.

I'm not saying its right, its just the current state of play. We're a long way away from getting this right.

Avatar
Gkam84 replied to half_wheel79 | 2 years ago
1 like

No, it was on the same platform and I think you are wrong about mens racing pulling in the money. 

Avatar
half_wheel79 replied to Gkam84 | 2 years ago
1 like

dont be ridiculous ! mens racing pulls in more viewers world wide and more advertising revenue and tv rights. Which is why they can afford to pay them more.

It doesn't make it right, but its just the way it is. If womens racing was given more exposure it should attract more sponsorship.

 

Avatar
Velophaart_95 | 2 years ago
4 likes

MTB & CX World Cups give the women the same coverage as the men, and the same pay. Time the road side of the sport caught up.

Saying that, the 1st prize for the men 16,000 Euros - in a so called elite pro sport....absolutely laughable.

Avatar
Rich_cb | 2 years ago
3 likes

I imagine that if OHN was forced to have an equally sized prize pot for the Women's race as for the Men's then there would be no further women's editions of the race.

Not sure how that would help grow Women's cycling.

Now if a prominent road cycling website starting giving coverage to women's racing instead of just covering rows about women's prize money that might actually help...

Avatar
radarbug replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
0 likes

Women are  50% of the population therefore 50% of the potential audience. There should be positive encouragement for womens racing and making the prize money 5.5% of the male prize money is not the way to do it. The big prize is greater participation in cycling both recreationally and professionally.

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to radarbug | 2 years ago
0 likes

If you increase the prize fund that money has to come from somewhere.

Do you think an equal prize fund is the most effective way to increase the participation rate?

I would argue that coverage is far more important and that costs money to establish, money that wouldn't be available if the prize funds were equal.

Avatar
wycombewheeler replied to radarbug | 2 years ago
0 likes
radarbug wrote:

Women are  50% of the population therefore 50% of the potential audience. There should be positive encouragement for womens racing and making the prize money 5.5% of the male prize money is not the way to do it. The big prize is greater participation in cycling both recreationally and professionally.

Is your argument that the main reason women watch sport less than men is that they are not seeing women competing?

I'm not sure that holds up.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Rich_cb | 2 years ago
3 likes

If their tweets are to be believed you imagine wrongly.   

They claim to be investing 6 figure sums in womens cycling, if you believe that (huge pinch of salt imo) the disaparity in prize money is a drop in the ocean to rectify.

Plus do you really believe that the prize pot is one of the biggest costs of a flagship race like this - such that it would make or break it?  They are treating the women like dirt because they are full of unconscious biases.

Avatar
Rich_cb replied to Secret_squirrel | 2 years ago
1 like

There's a big difference between investment and profit.

A 6 figure sum is €100,000. The men's winners prize alone would be nearly a 5th of their entire investment in that case.

Once you include the other prizes (€40,000 total) you're at 40% of your six figure sum just on prizes. That's before you pay any other costs.

It's hardly 'a drop in the ocean'.

Money talks, there's a reason that the prize fund for men's cycling is fairly dismal compared to other elite sport, cycling races are very difficult to stage profitably. The frequency of races going bust is testament to this.

Avatar
alexuk | 2 years ago
4 likes

This topic is a tough one. Typically the laides don't ride as far, the racing isn't as good and less people watch it. May I bring your attention to when the Australia Women's national team were beat 7-0 to the Newcastle Jets, Boys Under-15 side. It's not the fault of the organiser, or the males. If the females aren't comparable to the males, then why should they get paid the same?   Paying them more won't make more people watch them.

If there's a market for it, and people tune in, then the prize money can increase then we can all be happy. If there isn't, then there won't be. It's not anyone's fault, no one is doing anything wrong. Men are typically bigger and stronger than women, which makes for more compelling entertainment in cycling.

Pages

Latest Comments