Skip to main content

Men in first-class, women in economy – France defends World Championships travel plans

LEUVEN BELGIUM SEPTEMBER 26 Julian Alaphilippe of France celebrates at finish line as race winner during the 94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 Men Elite Road Race a 2683km race from Antwerp to Leuven flanders2021 on September 26 2021 in Leuven Belgium Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Julian Alaphilippe will aim for a third straight world title in Australia (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The French national team have defended their decision to fly their men's and women's squads to the UCI Road World Championships in different classes. 

Two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe and his eight teammates in the elite men's squad were handed tickets in business class for the long flight to Australia. 

Meanwhile, the rest of the selection, including the elite women, were back in economy class. 

The arrangements have sparked controversy, but the French Federation has confirmed and defended its decision. 

"Effectively, we confirm. It was a choice of the Technical Direction and the French Cycling Federation. A confirmed choice," a spokesperson told the Ouest France (opens in new tab) newspaper. 

"Everyone travelled in economy class, apart from the elite men. Why did we do that? Because the men are going to defend their title this year, once again. And above all because economic choices had to be made. 

"The journey being very long, it costs an enormous amount, and if we wanted to take everyone, we needed to make choices. And if everyone were to be be in business, many people would have had to stay at home."

The 2022 Worlds in Australia, on the opposite side of the world to professional cycling's European heartlands, have produced financial and logistical headaches for many federations, particularly with the rapid rise in travel costs following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Some have found the costs prohibitive, with Ireland choosing not to participate at all. Meanwhile, Belgian Cycling representatives have indicated the total costs are treble that of a European Worlds, even with reduced resources. 

Belgium did not send its riders in business class, with Wout van Aert revealing that he paid 8000 Euros out of his own pocket to upgrade his ticket. 

"Some countries, like Ireland, have decided not to participate in the World Championships. We asked ourselves if we should take all the categories, especially the juniors. We did it. But we don't have the means to put everyone in business," France's technical director Christophe Manin told AFP later on Saturday.

"For the men, we've been world champions for the last two years. We are really going there to win, while we are more of an outsider in the girls' competition.

"If we had the mountain bike world championships in Australia with the same economic choice to make, we would put the two girls in business and the boys in economy."

Alaphilppe leads the men's team in search of a third straight title, while Juliette Labous and Evita Muzic are the leading lights on the women's side.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1