Lizzy Banks says she can’t understand the discrepancy in prize money between men’s and women’s racing, saying of the recent Omloop Het Nieuwsblad controversy, where Davide Ballerini won €16,000 compared to Anna van der Breggen’s €930, that there’s no way the women are seven times less valuable than the men.
“I just don’t understand, are we seven times less valuable than the men’s race? I don’t think so,” Banks told Eurosport for a special International Women’s Day programme.
“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.”
Banks says she always reads through the race manual before each race to check the prize money, and was so shocked by the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad discrepancy that she considered psoting about it on social media.
“I got the race manual the night before and I always flick through it to see what the difference in prize money is just out of interest because some race organisers are really forward-thinking and they’re like, we’re going to make the change now and we’re going to make it equal and then everything else will come,” Banks said.
“Not so much with this [Omloop Het Nieuwsblad] race organiser…I sent a video of this to my friend and my husband and I thought about posting about it on social media but I just didn’t really want to make a wave and I didn’t want to seem negative the night before the race, and I had to focus on the race.
“So, I showed it to my team-mate and she said to me ‘hey, you know Lizzy, that’s more than most female professional cyclists earn in a year’.
“That really struck a chord and struck home with me because, why? What’s the reason?”
Banks’ second race for new team Ceratizit WNT Pro Cycling is Strade Bianche, where a crowdfunding campaign was launched to increase the women’s prize money pot.
At the time of writing, €23,000 has been raised, adding a considerable amount to the €2,256 currently on offer for the winner, compared to the €16,000 for the male victor, more than the entire pot for the women.