The discrepancy between the amount of prize money awarded to men and women cyclists in races and events has long been an issue, but is the tide finally turning?
It certainly looks like there are promising developments in the world of mountain biking, at any rate.
At the end of 2012, cycling’s international governing body the UCI announced that there was to be equal prize money for male and female riders at all future World Championship events from the 2013 season onwards, with the exception of the road team time trial event. This ruling is also applicable to World Cup events, though sadly not at the lower level events.
Now, the organisers of the legendary Absa Cape Epic, and the Bridge Pioneer Trek events in South Africa have announced that they too will offer equal prize money for the 2013/14 season. Although UCI accredited, these are races run by private race organisers, so does this signal the start of a trend?
Andrea Marcellini, who heads up the newly created Women’s Commission at the UCI, is positive.
“South Africa is doing a lot for mountain bike but also for cycling in general. I am delighted by the country’s initiative. It is a demonstration of the organisers’ respect for the athletes and their desire to increase female participation at their events."
South Africa was the venue for the spectacular 2013 World Championships, which saw the indomitable British racer Rachel Atherton crowned victor in the Downhill event, and another British female, Tahnee Seagrave, clinching the Junior World Champion DH title.
The Absa Cape Epic is a mythically challenging MTB stage race, over 800km long through beautiful but tough terrain. Many notable riders have taken it on, including Anka Martin, Tracy Moseley, and Andrea Marcellini herself.
‘Equal prize money will help professional women cyclists take on their careers with more serenity. This sort of initiative can only encourage more women to enter the sport."
It is excellent news, but it is only one step in the recognition of women’s cycling.
We’d certainly like to see equal prize money across all events for male and female cyclists.
Want to find out more? Juliet Elliot shared her views when the UCI news was first announced.