The recent announcement that there is to be a pay rise for professional cyclists for the first time in five years was welcomed within the sport. However, there is just one problem: the pay rise was only for men. For male riders on World Tour teams, the minimum salary will rise to 38,115 euros next year while for riders on Pro Continental teams, the minimum wage will be 30,885 euros. It’s not exactly of Cristiano Ronaldo proportions, but it’s not a bad salary for riding a bike.

However, the omission, yet again, of any rule which would require teams to pay their female riders anything at all never mind a minimum wage is troubling, to say the least. There is something not right when world-class athletes are getting paid a pittance, getting paid nothing or, in some cases, paying to compete.

When the men’s pay rise was revealed, Sunweb rider and Canadian national champion Leah Kirchmann tweeted: “Hmmm so men get a pay rise and still no minimum salary for the women in 2018 . . .”, while Denmark’s national coach and four-time world champion Catherine Marsal commented: “Before going for a raise for the men, what about creating a minimum salary for the women, uh?” It is hard to disagree that there is something profoundly unfair about this inequity and it certainly gives the impression, fairly or otherwise, that women’s cycling is not valued.

During his 2013 campaign to become UCI president, Brian Cookson specified that developing women’s cycling, including introducing a minimum wage, was one of his main aims. However, not long after his election, he revealed that he had come to the conclusion that a minimum wage would be “counterproductive”, with a number of teams likely to fold if such a policy was introduced.

There is, of course, the supply and demand issue. If women’s teams have little or no money then coercing them into paying their riders salaries is unsustainable and would damage the sport in the long-term. But just accepting that the money is not there and forgetting about the issue is not the answer either.

There are a number of things that must be addressed within women’s cycling before a minimum wage policy can realistically be looked at. Firstly, it is not within the UCI’s power to force teams to set a minimum wage. In men’s cycling, the minimum salary rule is set through an agreement between the Professional Cyclists Association (CPA) and the International Association of Professional Cycling Teams, with the UCI merely ensuring that the teams adhere to the agreement. Women’s cycling was only included in the CPA this summer though.

Secondly, women’s cycling suffers dreadfully from a lack of exposure and, as a result, attracting sponsorship proves to be extraordinarily difficult. The lack of exposure of women’s racing is not because it is poor quality though, with no less than Mark Cavendish tweeting recently that he thought that the women’s race at the recent World Championships was the most exciting of the entire week.

But without coverage, sponsors will be reluctant to go anywhere near women’s cycling and so if the UCI are serious about improving conditions for women riders – and incoming president David Lappartient claims that he is – they must make a serious commitment to increasing the profile of women’s cycling.

Progress has already been made for women – there is equal prize money at world championship events, the distance of women’s races has been increased and there is now a Women’s World Tour. While all of these developments are encouraging, they are somewhat wasted if no one can actually watch the races.

What is so shocking in the minimum wage debate is that no one is looking for Chris Froome-esque wages of four million-odd euros. In fact, Marsal suggests a starting annual wage of a mere 8-10,000 euros. There are Scottish riders such as Katie Archibald and Eileen Roe who would benefit hugely from greater investment into women’s pro cycling. They may not become multi-millionaires through their sport but as Canyon-SRAM team manager Beth Duryea says: “If a person chooses cycling as their career, they are professionals, and therefore they should be paid as such. It doesn't matter if they are male or female.”

It does not seem too much to ask for, does it?


Rejoice, for the Scottish Football Association have finally realised that we are in the 21st century. Last week it was announced that, at last, the SFA would be appointing a woman to their board. Good work chaps, it’s only taken you almost a century and a half.

The revelation that Ana Stewart will become the first woman director of football’s national governing body was hugely welcome, but it also highlighted how behind the times the SFA are that it has taken until 2017 for a woman to be admitted to the exclusively male club that the SFA board has been since the governing body was founded in 1873.

Let’s not get too excited though, for one woman does not equality make. Stewart’s appointment is a start, and the SFA must be applauded for finally putting an end to their all-male syndicate that was, frankly, an embarrassment to the country. But the presence of one lone female should not lull anyone into thinking that the fight to have women’s thoughts represented on the board is won. There is still much progress to be made when it comes to diversity within the SFA.