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Re: Women´s Cycling Round table
« on: December 15, 2015, 11:45 »
Question 1.
In Cookson's Manifesto, one of the main pledges was minimum wages in women's cycling, In a video via Sky news published on the 25th of November 2015 he hopped to 'have a minimum wage in 2 to 3 years', which will be approximately 5 years after being elected, we have the new womens' road commission, we have the expanded World Cup re branded as the Women's World Tour , but once you scratch the surface what has the UCI changed in Women's cycling? Where could the UCI take on a bigger role?

Cycling Direct Stuart
If you look at all my answers, sponsorship and the money into women's cycling is key to its future. I agree with Brian's minimum wage comments, now is not the time more money is needed in the sport first.
The WWT is a great step forward as long as this 2016 base is grown upon in a way that can sustain the sport.
The UCI need to look into the protection of women riders against the personal abuses that are sadly prevalent with urgency.
Very little has really changed and what does the women's road commission do?  Are we seeing results, if there are they are failing to get that message across?
We still need a proper U23 classification for the road as soon as possible, we now have it in CX so why not the road?

Stefan Wyman
I don’t feel there have been many real physical changes in women’s cycling since September 2013, certainly not that have been implemented by the UCI.  However that’s
not for lack or discussion.  I’m sure that’s not what Mr Cookson hoped for when he was elected but it is the reality.

Certainly over that period the top end of the sport has grown stronger with the might of teams like Wiggle Honda.  However that growth and strength of the top 8 or 10 teams has lead to the weakening of the bottom of the sport as the two halves are driven further and further apart.  That golf between the top and bottom is wider than ever and unless action is taken to ensure a strong future for both parts of the sport I fear for the depth of the sport. 

A strong World Tour when it launches in 2017 is essential.  That’s the sports front end, what people will see and understand.  But that part of the sport needs a strong 2nd division. There needs to be competition for places for the World Tour very soon after it’s launched. Presently however, as far as I see it, no thought and time whatsoever has been put into the regulations and purpose of the 2nd division. 

The sport has too many teams at the moment, too many weak and underfunded teams.  We have to be prepared for a time of change, with short-term difficulty for the long term good.  Strong decision-making is needed.  Introducing a Minimum salary takes a strong person, who will be drawing a line in the sand for every single female cyclist from that day forward. I haven’t been part of any debate on it, but I’ve seen a lot of random figure and debates batted around on news sites.  Personally, I’d have had the minimum salary coming in at the same time as the World Tour.  I feel that a World Tour without this is simply a change of name and removes some of the legitimacy it could have had. It removes its impact, which really disappoints me.

Guy Elliot
I think the Women's Road Commission is a great thing.  We now have a group of very knowledgeable and respected individuals taking balanced decisions for the long-term future of women's racing and getting the full and direct public support of the UCI President.  It it unrealistic to change everything in a day and I can see the validity of the argument "What has changed?" but I believe things ARE moving in the right direction.  There seems to be much more focus on changing women's cycling and a recognition right across the sport that everyone needs to get behind change.

It would be easy for Brian Cookson, who I respect,  to say minimum wage standards are introduced from 2016 but that would simply mean the collapse of many teams. You often find the UCI being criticised for not doing this or that but the fact is that if only modest amounts of sponsorship are coming in, compared with men's sport, there's not a lot anyone can do and I would try and go back to the root causes and try and influence them.  I am not sure the minimum wage is the real issue anyway - over the years I have had several male riders seeking places on pro teams calling me to ask if I can help raise the money they need to pay the team to be allowed to ride. The women I speak to seem most interested in being treated with respect in terms of quality of race organisation, security of contract, actual payment of prize-money that has been earned, decent accommodation on the races, decent prize money (without necessarily being exactly the same as men's events), TV coverage and race safety. I agree it is great to have it as an aspiration but I would be very, very cautious about formalising it whilst everything else is evolving. 

I would rather insist on men's World Tour teams creating women's teams as part of the conditions of being awarded a ProTour licence. I know there would be a lot of protests but commercial organisations all over the world are committing to, and sometimes being forced to commit to, far greater levels of diversity. 

I think where the UCI could help, and it's a tough task, is to appoint some sort of Commercial Director focussed solely on bringing sponsorship into women's pro cycling.  It needs careful thought about exactly what that role would entail and where to target any inflow of funds but we know that many organisers are running on a shoestring - often with an organisational team of volunteers with full-time jobs - and I think this is the area I would like to explore in more detail.  I would also like to see the UCI drive through change with regard to race organisation of major tours which I discuss later.

Yolanda Álvarez
Up to now, Cookson's promises have been introduced too slowly. For years we have been promised that all World Cup races would be televised, and every season we see it not happening. Women are still the second course for UCI and plenty of times it seems as if women are a nuisance they have to deal with.

Regarding UCI's social media, their contribution to women's cycling is most of the times ridiculously scarce. We fans are lucky that some organizers, teams and riders themselves invest time and money in that fundamental aspect

Karl Lima
There are positive signs and development every year. I dont expect giant leaps. UCI can help to get more TV coverage. If something annoyed me this year it was their (lack of) coverage  in China World Cup, yet they published an utter false report, wonder who wrote that piece of crap.

Women's cycling is definitely changing for the better and it feels like there is real momentum right now. It never happens as quickly as we'd all like, but it's important to bring people with you in the progression of the sport rather than force them out by implementing rules that can't be achieved by most today.

The Women's WorldTour (WWT) hasn't even started yet but it's already starting to have a positive impact. Emakumeen Bira is a great example of this. It's a fantastic race but is very low key in terms of coverage. Following the announcement of races included in the WWT reports from Spain suggested that the race organisers were clearly disappointed about their race not being included. After the initial disappointment of not being selected they seem to be putting in place measures to help them be more likely to be included in the future: Moving the race in the calendar to avoid conflicts with other WWT events and securing TV coverage with a combination of highlights packages and some live broadcasts. Would that have happened without the introduction of the WWT? Probably not. It's encouraging races to be better and not be happy with the status quo.

From my viewpoint, encouraging race organisers to not be content with the current situation, and breaking the thinking of 'well thats how we've always done it' is critical to the growth of women's cycling. The Women's Tour in the UK is an often used example but there are lower budget races that are doing great work, like the Ladies Tour of Norway. They're a relatively new race but are setting a standard others would do well to follow. They have a great social presence, a simple but effective website, live streaming of the races, making great efforts to engage fans at home and abroad and take on any feedback like a sponge. It's not perfect but they're looking to be better every year and that can only be a good thing.

Well organised races that are easy to follow helps grow the fan base for women's cycling, which will eventually attract additional investment. With new investment there's more available for rider salaries and hopefully a minimum wage will become a non issue.

Sarah Connolly
This is a hard one to answer, as a lot of what they're working on is happening behind the scenes.  Personally, I think the Commission has been doing so much - the World Tour, the plans that are in place to change the team structure, some resolution of irritating difficulties that have been plaguing the sport.  I loved that immediately Cookson & Gaudry came in to the UCI, they got rid of the counter-productive average-age issues.  The World Tour is the biggest one, but the whole 2016 road calendar, for example, has solved a lot of the issues we complained about in previous years, and with the talk of more changes to be rolled out over the next few years, about adding another layer of teams and races etc, I feel really confident that things are going in the right direction.  (Want more

And it's not just in road - I love the changes for women's cyclocross, for example, about lengthening races, and making race organisers take the women's racing seriously.  And on the track, extending the Team Pursuit to 4 riders & 4km for equality with the men (I'm hoping they'll change the IP, team sprint and 500m too).

The biggest change, for me, has been how the UCI's moved into the 21st century, in terms of publicising the sport.  I love that we can now watch all the CX and MTB World Cups live, and there's the twitter and instagram and youtube clips to watch the races.  I love that they made a very easy win by taking road World Cups that were streaming live *somewhere* and adding them to the YT as well.  Of course I want bigger and better social media, but it's a huge change that helps all the stakeholders everywhere. 

I do appreciate that lots of people want more change, faster, but I think their timescale has been very realistic for bringing stakeholders on board, and not completely freaking out the often-"traditional" cycling world.  I think the biggest change has been that the UCI is showing it CAN change, inviting opinions, involving women riders, and when they get things wrong (eg Paralympic track cycling) taking a long hard look, admitting it, and doing more. 

Where can they take a bigger role?  Do more of what they're doing.  The pressing new thing, for me, is supporting riders when they're in dispute with teams etc - I hate that we're still hearing about riders not being paid contracted wages, and riders being mistreated (and hints of abuse).  I'd like to see the UCI clamp down publicly on teams - eg next time a team doesn't pay a rider, take the money out of the team bond, give it to the rider, and not let the team operate the next year.  I'd also like to see more done about the doctors, coaches etc who provide riders with drugs - especially the young, vulnerable riders.  Ban the riders, for sure, but when there are teenagers and young 20s riders especially, go after the suppliers super-hard, involve local law enforcement, and take that head off the monster for good.

Suze Clemitson
I'm reminded of my interview with Brian Cookson on the subject of the minimum wage - he didn't seem unduly upset by the fact that he'd defaulted on his manifesto promise regarding the women's minimum wage. After talking to his VP Tracey Gaudry, I was persuaded of the validity of her approach - to raise the level of women's cycling, to professionalise it and to ensure that women were getting paid and to ensure their health and safety - but her job is akin to that of a captain at the helm of a supertanker. That she is frustrated by the slow pace of change speaks volumes. And this is where I think Cookson could be taking on a far greater leadership role - safeguarding women in the sport and ensuring men's teams either directly sponsor a women's team or take some kind of role in sharing advice and resources. Easy wins that he seems happy to turn a blind eye to.

Jessi Braverman
This question outlines the major changes that the UCI has implemented under Cookson. Could they have done more? Of course. Is this more than they’ve done in the past? Absolutely.

I’ve heard riders talk about the fine line between being grateful for the change that’s happening and speaking up for the progress they are desperate to see happen more quickly than it is. At the risk of sounding too optimistic or naïve, I see a genuine commitment to change. I just don’t see it happening at the pace many of us would like. And I think that’s related to bureaucratic nonsense much more so than a lack of intent or will or caring.

In saying that, I think the most pivotal role the UCI can play right now is threefold:
1. increased standards that race organisations must meet before receiving UCI status – this applies to rider safety, doping controls, digital content, live race coverage, prize money, accommodation, etc.
+increased communications with all relevant parties on the changes currently underway and the progress still to come – this includes riders, teams, race organisers, media and, to a certain degree, fans
+embrace every opportunity for equality that doesn’t require a slow roll-out – example; this can range from broad initiatives like pre-season medical tests for all our female athletes (just like the male athletes are required to get) to smaller but equally important initiatives such as using “women” (rather than “girls”) when they would say “men” (rather than “boys”)
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  • « Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 10:07 by just some guy »
    Of course, if this turns out someday to be the industry standard integrated handlebar-computer-braking solution then I'll eat my kevlar-reinforced aerodynamic hat.

    Larri Nov 12, 2014


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