World champion Anna van der Breggen has said while the riders of SD Worx are thankful for the money crowdfunded for the winner of Strade Bianche, her team-mate Chantal van den Broek-Blaak having crossed the line first, she hopes it will prove to the UCI and race organisers that women’s racing deserve to be broadcast properly live on television, with only the final 22km of the women’s Strade Bianche aired.
€26,000 was raised by a crowdfunding campaign launched by a fan after outcry over the discrepancy between the €930 on offer for the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner compared to the €16,000 for the man across the line first. At Strade Bianche a week later, the male winner was allotted €16,000 compared to just €2,256 for the rider who won the women’s race.
The crowdfunding money was split between the top five across the line, with SD Worx picking up nearly half of the sum after finishing first and third, and the team have now thanked all those who contributed to the campaign, but also saying they hope it shows race organisers the appetite that fans have for women’s racing to be broadcast live on TV.
“We as riders from team SD Worx were surprised to hear that so many fans donated money, to achieve the same amount of prize money as the men. The gesture is really generous and gives us the feeling that not only teams and riders want to bring women’s cycling to a higher level, but that the fans also want to be a part of this!” Anna van der Breggen said.
The Dutchwoman also said that prize money isn’t necessarily the most important issue for the women’s peloton, as those riding for WorldTour teams, the most likely to be picking up the prize pots at these WT races, already receive decent salaries.
“We also want to say that prize money isn’t the most important thing for riders who are part of a UCI WorldTour team, because we already receive good salaries. We hope your prize money gesture will further show the UCI and organisers that our races deserve to be broadcast for our fans. More exposure for our races is the most important thing to grow women’s cycling in the coming years.
“So we want to thank everybody a lot for the support and hopefully your efforts will lead to the attention that women’s cycling deserves.”
This point of view is shared by Movistar’s Annemiek van Vleuten, a two-time Strade Bianche winner who finished fourth and so picked up some of the extra money on offer.
Elisa Longo Borghini, who finished runner-up behind Chantal van den Broek-Blaak, has announced her share of the money would go towards women’s cycling projects.
“I’m honoured and touched, as a woman and as a rider, that someone was willing to donate money to support the cause of prize equity between women’s and men’s cycling. This generosity is a vote of confidence, a great boost in support of the entire women’s movement. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” the Italian said.
“To make this gesture even more important, my Trek-Segafredo team-mates and I have decided that our prize shares collected through crowdfunding, starting with mine at Strade Bianche, will be set aside and committed to supporting women’s cycling projects. We will soon decide how and where we will spend the money, but on this special day [International Women’s Day] we think it’s important marking a new step in the long and difficult road of women’s empowerment.”
Ceratizit-WNT’s Lizzy Banks is another who’s spoken out on the issue, saying she finds it hard to believe that the women are seven times less valuable than the men’s, the size of the discrepancy between the prize money at Omloop.
“I just don’t understand, are we seven times less valuable than the men’s race? I don’t think so,” she said. “I think we put on a great, great show – so why is this happening? It happens time and time again, and we’re really fighting a losing battle here, why wouldn’t you change this?
“It’s such an easy thing to change and this money isn’t going to make a difference to the men in the same way that it would make a difference to the women.”