Wiggle-Honda’s Elisa Longo Borghini wants to see more done to raise women’s cycling to the level of men’s, starting with equal prize money.
She revealed that she took home just €1,213 (£871) for winning the Tour of Flanders, a fraction of the €20,000 (£14,365) claimed by men’s winner Alexander Kristoff.
The Women’s Tour of Flanders on April 5, held hours before the men’s race, was the third World Cup event in a series of 10 this season, and Longo Borghini criticised the lack of prize money on offer.
“I won the same that you’d win in any World Cup race, 1213€,” Longo Borghini told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Now, how is it possible a woman wins the same as a rider who places 20th in the men’s race? In 2015? It’s not fair.”
Later the same afternoon, Kristoff won €20000, Terpstra €10000 and Greg Van Avermaet €5000. The seventh and eighth place riders earned nearly the same as Longo Borghini, €1500 and €1000 respectively. Riders placed 10th through 20th, like Sky’s Geraint Thomas (Sky) in 14th, earned €500 each.
In comparison to Flanders, German John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) took home €30,000 (£21,548) for winning Paris-Roubaix on Sunday.
“I don’t do it for the prize money. I love sport,” Brit Emma Pooley told BBC Sport in April last year.
“It seems strange when the prize money for coming third at a triathlon in the Philippines is more than the prize money I’ve ever won in a bike race. That’s nuts to me.”
At last year’s World Championships team time trial in Ponferrada, Spain, for example, the winning men earned £26,500 and the women got just £8,500.
In October, Minister for Sport Helen Grant called for equal pay in cycling events after a study showed men earn more than 30% more in prize money than women in many sports.
“There is a gap, it needs to be closed but it’s not going to happen overnight,” she told BBC Sport.
“We do know that women’s sport is very exciting, we know it can draw really big audiences but we need more media coverage and more commercial investment.”
Longo Borghini agreed with Grant: “We’re growing, the level’s improving,”
“Sorting out images is the first thing because it pulls in sponsors. At least the last 25 kilometres of the a world cup has to be shown. I think it’s better to see 10 strong women fighting it out rather than an escape in a men’s race 150 kilometres from the finish line that is going 50kph, with the group going 40kph.
“The women deserve better.”