Is Women’s Cycling ‘Just Business’?
Sports can often be identified as a mixing pot of individuals, but how much diversity is there really in the world of sports. Can people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and genders really expect to reach the highest levels of professional international sport?
With Özil’s recent resignation from German international football and the ongoing efforts to establish significant endurance races in women’s cycling, producing little fruit, is it time to ask the question: have we really come as far as we think we have? And if not, what can we do to change that?
The Tour de France’s independent organiser, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), finally responded to campaigners, (who’d been asking for a Tour de France comparable event for women) when in 2014 they introduced ‘La Course’ an endurance cycling event for women. But just four years later, in 2018, when the race was reduced to a 1 day, single stage event, for some it felt as if they’d taken a step backwards.
Many are asking why it’s so difficult to establish a multi-stage endurance race for women, when a men’s race has been running for over a century. Kathryn Bertine, the former pro cyclist, claims it’s ‘blatant sexism’, but others argue that it’s a logistical and financial challenge to create a Tour de France event for women.
As the Tour de France is an independently run event there’s no governing body, meaning not only is there no committee to launch an appeal to, but there is a less defined ethical conundrum and it’s perhaps a ‘business is business’ approach that campaigners have to battle.
Whilst the Giro Rosa, a women’s annual multi-stage event held in Italy consisting of 10 gruelling stages, looks like a great alternative, it pales in comparison to the men’s 21 stages. It’s also run at the same time as the Tour de France, which limits exposure and possibly sponsorship for female riders.
So why is it that women’s endurance cycling isn’t getting the investment it should? With four time Olympic Champion, Laura Kenny, saying it’s as if the progress the women’s peloton was making has been ‘taken away’, is it still acceptable to blame a ‘business decision’ for a lack of equality in women’s cycling?