While the UCI points up for grabs for the elite men's and women's fields at Saturday's C1-ranked Providence Cyclo-cross Festival are equal, the prize money originally slated for their respective podiums was not. However, Providence, Rhode Island-based company G-Form, a manufacturer of protective athletic gear and electronic accessories, has signed on to ensure that the women's podium will receive equal prize money as the men - $3,945 in total with $2,121 going to the winner.
Lea Davison, an Olympic mountain biker as well as runner-up at this year's CrossVegas cyclo-cross race, and Joanna Petterson, professional downhill mountain bike racer and bike product line manager at G-Form, were integral in solidifying the last minute deal for the Shimano-NEPCX series event.
"I was looking at the prize list and was disappointed in the discrepancy between the men's and women's podium," Davison said, "I spoke with [race promoter] Richard Fries and was able to contact my friends at G-Form to even out the podium payouts."
"We're not specifically a high-need product in cyclo-cross, but we are big in the bike world," Petterson told Cyclingnews. "Unequal prize lists are a common issue in all sports, not just cycling. It's so important to make a statement as to what women are making in comparison to the men. So many people feel that way, but people don't do anything about it. I approached our committee with the idea and as a local business and as athletes, we felt it was a perfect opportunity to do something tangible."
Fries added, "It's easy to complain about problems, but it's more difficult to find solutions. With the help of Lea Davison, Joanna Petterson and all the folks at G-Form, we've taken a necessary step toward prize equity."