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The Cyclists' Alliance survey says most women racers don't negotiate their contracts

The peloton at the Ladies Tour of Norway 2021
The peloton at the Ladies Tour of Norway 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The annual survey by women's cycling union The Cyclists' Alliance (TCA) has this year been divided into three parts, the first, on working conditions, was released last month. It found that wage disparity between those on Women's WorldTeams and those on Continental squads has increased.

The second part of the survey was released earlier this week, this time detailing the responses to legal and ethical matters that female cyclists face.

The survey was comprised of 84 professional female riders, 17 per cent of whom ride for Women's WorldTour teams and 83 per cent for Continental squads. As before, TCA also noted that the same riders did not answer the survey year on year, but a similar number of riders completed the survey, which is approximately 10 per cent of the peloton.

The Alliance offers free legal advice to riders including looking over their contracts before they sign them, however, the survey found that 80 per cent of respondents did not use legal assistance when signing their contracts. As well as signing contracts without legal assistance, the survey found that 80 per cent of riders signed deals for just one year creating an unstable environment. Elsewhere, only 29 per cent were in a position to successfully negotiate their contract terms, meaning 71 per cent of riders surveyed accepted the original contract offered to them by their team/employer.

The survey also found that riders are unfamiliar with how contracts impact their image and data rights, with 62 per cent unsure if they own their image rights and 70 per cent did not know if they own their data rights.

TCA also set out to uncover the reasons cited by female riders for leaving the sport earlier than planned. In line with the findings from the first part of the survey, financial reasons were the number one cause at 58 per cent, with starting a family second at 40 per cent, and 37 per cent or riders citing pursuing career opportunities outside of racing as the main factor.

The second segment of the survey covered whether riders benefit from agent support. It was found that 81per cent of those surveyed said they do not have an agent representing them, with only 18 per cent reported that they employ an agent. Of those who do have an agent, the services provided included finding a team, negotiating contracts, support with CVs, securing multi-year deals, attainment of personal sponsorships, contacting the team amongst other services.

In the past year the Alliance has introduced an Agent Charter which lists "officially recognised agents who adhere to a set of minimum standards and ethics," the survey found that 40 per cent of riders who responded to the survey were aware of this service.

The Alliance appointed an Ethics Officer in March of 2020 to ensure riders are protected and supported in that area. The ethics section of the survey found that 44 per cent of respondents said they had been "pressured into a decision or to race" and 14 per cent have felt "unsafe" in their team, citing behaviour ranging from intimidation and abuse of power to the threat of terminating contracts without warning and unsafe driving. However, the majority of those who responded, 86 per cent, said they feel safe in their team and 63 per cent are aware that TCA has an ethics officer.

Presenting these findings TCA said: "We will continue to hold the UCI and all stakeholders accountable for their responsibilities until the culture in our sport has changed for the better, and to ensure that rider safety is paramount."

The third and final part of the Alliance's annual survey, on team culture, will be released in the coming month and will cover "professionalism and rider happiness & satisfaction within the team environment". For more information on The Cyclists' Alliance and the survey visit www.cyclistsalliance.org.