Giorgia Bronzini has lamented the lack of structure and sponsorship in women’s cycling in Italy and internationally, and rebutted UCI president Pat McQuaid’s assertion that women’s cycling has “not developed enough” for a guaranteed minimum wage.
McQuaid’s comments were made at the world championships in Copenhagen in September, where Bronzini captured her second consecutive rainbow jersey in the women’s road race.
“I’d say that moment has arrived, and has done for a while. Women’s cycling is ready to make important steps,” Bronzini told Tuttobici. “Already in Copenhagen I wanted to speak with the president of the UCI to inform him that my jersey was worth just as much as Cavendish’s one, and to give him a list of reasons why we women deserve more.”
Worlds silver medallist Marianne Vos will ride in the colours of Rabobank in 2012, and Bronzini called on the top-level Italian squads to follow suit and form their own women’s teams. The Italian will return to the Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan set-up in 2012.
“Italian women give more to cycling than they receive,” she said. “Our movement is growing in numbers and in value, with results that the men haven’t been able to obtain, at least in the last few years. What are we missing? Structures, from managers to teams, and above all, we’re lacking money and sponsors.
“Abroad they’ve understood that women improve cycling, and some of the biggest teams have opened a women’s section,” she said. “The cost is very limited, because the organisation already exists, from mechanics to masseurs, from bikes to team cars.”
Bronzini admitted that she would discourage her fellow countrywomen from attempting to pursue careers at the highest level, so few are the opportunities. “In Italy, it’s very hard, so much that when I’m asked for advice on women’s cycling, I immediately say that it’s better to stop or not even start, and devote yourself to something else,” she said. “But then I add that if you have passion and desire, cycling brings emotions and adventure, discipline and character.”
While top-level women athletes in other sports receive coverage more on a par with their male counterparts, Bronzini feels that women’s cycling is still a long way behind.
“There’s no comparison. In tennis, they’ve almost reached equality in terms of prize money. In basketball and volleyball, and even in skiing and swimming, there is more attention and space. We’re still relegated to walk-on parts.”
Although sponsorship opportunities remain limited in women’s cycling, Bronzini believes that change can begin to be effected if national federations start to treat women riders as professionals. “As long as we’re still considered to be amateurs, we won’t be able to get the same treatment as our professional colleagues.”