Tiffany Cromwell (AIS) has reiterated the stance held by the majority of the women’s teams competing in last week’s Giro della Toscana internazionale Femminile. The race saw only 49 finishers complete the last stage after 63, including Cromwell’s Orica-AIS team pulled out due to security and safety concerns.
Race leader Marianne Vos, and Italians Elisa Longo-Borghini and Giorgia Bronzini led the protest, saying that the “necessary conditions of security” were lacking. Only the leading group had police accompaniment, with the peloton forced to find its own way through the traffic.
“It’s the third year I’ve done the race but this year has been the worst. I was in the front group most days but the second you weren’t in the front group there was open traffic everywhere. There was traffic when warming up for the time trial and then on the first stage there were cars on the side of the roads that they’d just moved over,” Cromwell told Cyclingnews.
“The worst was on the next stage when we were coming around corners and there was a bus that we had to avoid just as we were coming around a corner. Nobody wanted to not start the race, but it was the only way to make a stand to say you can’t run the race like this.”
After the riders had made their protest, race patron Brunello Fanini issued a statement saying, “the race was fine. The protest is disgraceful and self-serving. The jury has spoken of a valid stage with no problems. The losers today are the so-called big names in cycling and women's racing in general.”
However Cromwell, who will compete in this week’s World Championships in Italy, stood by the majority’s decision not to race, and pointed towards a growing, more vocal stand taken by the women’s field.
“I think it’s good that we made a stand but it would have been better if it had been with all the teams. That’s the hardest thing with women’s cycling, it’s not like in men’s where they just would lose a bit of prize money. For us, some of the smaller teams are relying on starting races in order to make some money. We really just want to be heard and taken more seriously," she told Cyclingnews.