Sometimes you tweet and nobody cares but sometimes you catch the imagination of others and everything takes off. Yesterday’s conversation about equality in cyclo-cross was one of those days. I'm in a position to try to influence the future shape of women's cyclo-cross with my place on the UCI cross commission. This role is very much about the evolution of the sport, and there is certainly no revolution plan in place to just press the equality button.
The slow political change is frustrating, for everyone, not just me. Even changes we agree take some time to come into effect. Yesterday’s messages came following some points I confirmed. There has already been progress for women's cross, and there is more agreed that will come into effect next season. However I'm keen for there to be more, including equal prize money at all levels of cross.
A lot of the men in these races aren't aware of the disparity. I mean, why should they care? Many have said, once they're aware of it, they think it's wrong, and only those on lead laps should be paid. They include Jonathan Page and Jeremy Durrin. Note: they are all North American.
Yes, your eyes are seeing it right. That’s a prize fund for women equal to 17.4% of the men’s race.
In many of the World Cup events, the women's field is very similar. Valkenburg was 90% of the men’s, Namur it was 91%, and Zolder it was 95%. So despite the low salaries on offer for the majority, more severe selection criteria, and of course (broken record time) lower prize money, women riders are showing their commitment to the sport. That’s why I'm so passionate about it.
Did you say the selection criteria is different? Yes I did. Best example is my home nation of Britain. Spot the difference in these regulations, which means it much harder for a women to gain entry to a World Cup. Add to that the fact that for years, National Trophy races have been UCI c2 events for men, but not for women, meaning domestic based women can't score any UCI points, unlike the men. A double, or triple discrimination whammy:
I'm also a realist, and I know you can't just magic up €120,000 euro to equal the overall prize fund, or €35,000 for each round of the World Cup. My solution is simple, we add it up, and divide by 2. We have an equal prize fund, spread over an equal number of places.
Of course, if you know someone that wants to sponsor the equalization of prize funds, just drop them my email and I'll make sure it happens.
There is no justification for this disparity.