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Annemiek van Vleuten: Live TV before equal prize money

SIENA ITALY AUGUST 01 Podium Annemiek Van Vleuten of The Netherlands and Team Mitchelton Scott World Champion Jersey Celebration Trophy during the Eroica 6th Strade Bianche 2020 Women Elite a 136km race from Siena to Siena Piazza del Campo StradeBianche on August 01 2020 in Siena Italy Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Annemiek Van Vleuten celebrates her win at the 2020 Strade Bianche (Image credit: Getty Images)

Annemiek van Vleuten (Movistar) has chimed in on the discussion surrounding men's and women's prize money discrepancy in professional cycling, reiterating her stance that live broadcasting of women's events is more important than equal prize payouts.

The discussion surrounding prize money has reignited ahead of Strade Bianche, the opening round of the Women's WorldTour, held on Saturday in Italy. RCS Sport will offer €2,256 to the winner of the women's race and €16,000 to the winner of the men's race, which are prize money payouts that are mandated by the UCI.

A crowdfunding campaign has been set up by fans to try and raise the women’s prize money at Strade Bianche, which has reached €18,500 so far, and those funds will be distributed to the top five finishers by The Cyclists' Alliance.

“I am very happy that fans apparently cannot think that we are getting unequal prize money, but the change has to be in a different order. Most importantly, that competitions that are organized for women and can be seen on TV," Van Vleuten said in an report on NRC.nl.

The prize money discussion was at the forefront of news following Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, when it was revealed that World Champion Anna van der Breggen (SD Worx) earned €930, which was about five per cent of what Davide Ballerini (Deceuninck-QuickStep) earned €16,000 for winning the Classics opener in Belgium. The amounts are mandated by the UCI prize scales for 1.Pro women's and 1.WorldTour group two men's races.

Flanders Classics CEO Tomas van den Spiegel told Cyclingnews that they have a four-year plan called 'Closing the Gap' launched last year, which included offering live broadcasting this year, and bringing parity to the prize payouts by 2023, and that bumping the women's race up from 1.1 to 1.Pro this year cost €51K.

Part of the discussion surrounding the progress in women's cycling, however, focuses on whether live broadcasting is more important than equal prize money. Strade Bianche is required to provide at least 45 minutes of live broadcast as part of the Women's WorldTour. The Giro Rosa, a 10-day women's race in Italy, was downgraded to 1.Pro for not meeting the live broadcasting requirements last year.

Van Vleuten stated in an interview with Cyclingnews in 2018 that the three major areas to focus on, in her opinion, were live broadcasting was the most important, followed by women's events better aligning with the men' WorldTour, and then minimum salary requirements, which is now required of all Women's TourTeams. 

Van Vleuten noted, at that time, that if there were prize money, it should be more equal in comparison to the men's fields, but that prize money, in and of itself, was not the highest priority in building the professionalism of women's cycling. 

That year, Van Vleuten won the overall title at the Giro Rosa, and she revealed she earned €557.30 after the total winnings of her team at the Giro Rosa were split between 10 riders.

"I would kill for a women's edition of the Tour of Lombardy," Van Vleuten said. "But if it is made mandatory that they will pay out [equal] prize money immediately and that the competition cannot be organized as a result, we are doing the wrong thing."

Join Cyclingnews for live coverage of 2021 Strade Bianche women's race starting at 9:10 am CET and check in after the race for our full report, results, gallery, news and features. For more information on how to watch live coverage of the race, visit - How to watch Strade Bianche 2021 – live TV and streaming.