‘Cycling is and will remain an unbelievably conservative men’s world,’ says Tara Gins

The retired Belgian pro made headlines after speaking out over an incident where a men's team refused her DS work because of 'inappropriate' photos

Tara Gins has said she is surprised at the size of the splash she made after calling out a men’s team after they went back on an agreement for her to join as a sports director following “inappropriate” photos coming to light.

The retired Belgian pro took to Instagram to also speak out about being sexual assaulted during her racing days, asking why those people are able to have jobs within the sport while she has been denied this particular role.

The photos in question were from a paid modelling shoot, and Gins says the reaction to the situation from the cycling world has been “90 per cent positive”.

“I was angry that Saturday [when she spoke out on Instagram]. I had just been told that I would not be a sports director, which I had been really looking forward to. Just for a few photos. I thought that was unfair ”, Gins told Het Nieuwsblad in an interview.

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“I didn’t think others would pick this [story] up. Until my friend asked me the following day whether I knew I was big news. It was very strange and in the beginning you think: do I want this? But at the same time, I received a lot of support. Too often there is still an image that men and women are the same everywhere today. That is not true. Certainly not in cycling.”

While Gins says the response was overwhelmingly positive, she believes that while progress is being made in women’s cycling, the sport in general remains an “unbelievably conservative men’s world”.

“Cycling is and will remain an unbelievably conservative men’s world. In women’s cycling it is finally turning a bit. When I started as a rider, all team leaders, mechanics and soigneurs were still men. That is already a bit different. But in men’s cycling? And Belgium is the worst student in the class.”

Gins adds she’s been contacted by other riders expressing their support, as well as Belgian national coach, Sven Vanthourenhout.

“Riders have also contacted me, but in private,” she said. “Most people don’t dare to do it out in the open. And the Belgian cycling association? I don’t have the impression that they are working on it. Except for national coach Sven Vanthourenhout. He called me.”

As for the future, Gins still hopes to become a sports director, and will maybe even start racing again.

“In the meantime, I keep hoping that I will one day succeed as a sports director. In the meantime, I have set up my own team again and I will probably start racing a bit again. Because despite everything, I am really not the woman who necessarily wants to stand on the barricades. But should you always keep silent? 75 years ago, women did not have the right to vote either. Sometimes things only change when you resist.”