Elisa Longo Borghini (Wiggle-Honda) has called for better television coverage and better prize money for women races, revealing that she won just 1218 Euro for winning the recent Tour of Flanders, the amount awarded to the 20th place rider in the men’s Tour of Flanders.
The Italian won the women’s Tour of Flanders with an aggressive solo attack but the race was given little live coverage on television because the men’s race was also underway. Longo Borghini attacked alone with 36km to go and soloed to victory. Her Wiggle-Honda teammate Jolien d’Hoore finished second, winning the sprint from a small group that finished 43 seconds behind Longo Borghini.
The 23 year-old from Ornavasso in the northern Piedmont region of Italy, heads to the Netherlands for this weekend’s Ronde Van Gelderland before riding Fleche-Wallonne World Cup race on Wednesday. Despite a career threatening crash in 2013, she has emerged as the best Italian rider of her generation. She is intelligent and not afraid to speak out in defence of women’s cycling.
“Women’s cycling is growing. It’s stepped up a level, there’s no doubt about that. But the problem of television coverage is the first thing to sort out because it could help attract new sponsors,” she told Gazzetta dello Sport in an interview with Ciro Scognamiglio. She spoke about women's cycling to Cyclingnews in a recent interview.
“We know how to put on a show. People should come to our races or watch them in television. Trust me, Women don’t disappoint.”
While the UCI has worked to improve the coverage of the women’s World Cup and other major races, Longo Borghini’s win at the Tour of Flanders was virtually ignored by Belgian television that produced the live images from the men’s Tour of Flanders.
“I think that at least the last 25km of World Cup races should be shown live,” Longo Borghini argued.
“I think it’s better to see the 10 best women attack each other than watching a men’s early break that goes at 50km/h and a peloton that goes at 40km/h with 150km still to race. I’m also convinced that the major teams should also have a women’s team.”
Some women’s races now offer equal prize money between men and women. However Longo Borghini highlighted the difference between the prize list for men and women at the Tour of Flanders. She won 1218 Euro but that is traditionally shared with her teammates and team staff.
“The prize money is the same in every World Cup race: 1218 Euro,” she revealed, before asking: “Is it right in 2015 that a women gets the same amount as a man who finishes 20th? That can’t be right.”
Longo Borghini revealed she is coached by Paolo Slongo, the head coach at the Astana WorldTour team who also coaches Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali. Her brother Paolo raced as professional with the Cannondale team until 2014. She lacks a sprint finish and so is forced to go on the attack in pursuit of victories like her Tour of Flanders success.
“I get angry that I’m slower than almost everyone else,” she said. “I think I’m very consistent as a rider but it’s why I’ve won relatively little. I know I’ve got accept it and come up with things if I want to win like I did at the Tour of Flanders.”
“I risked my life when I hit the guard-rail and it was a very difficult moment in my life. But it also helped me mature. When you’ve risked your life, you don’t get upset for little things anymore. I’ve also realised how important my family is to me. I adored them before. Now I’ve learnt how important it is to have their support.”
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