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This story first appeared on VeloNews.com.
The French Cycling Federation responded to a chorus of critics after it emerged that Julian Alaphilippe and his teammates flew to the Australian UCI Road World Championships in business class while the women’s team was squeezed into economy.
“It is a choice of the technical director and the French Cycling Federation. A definite choice. Everyone traveled in economy class, except the pro men,” a spokesperson told Ouest-France.
“Why did we do it? Because the men are going to defend their title this year, again. And especially because it was necessary to make economic choices. This trip being very far away, it costs a lot.”
This year’s Wollongong worlds forced teams to interrogate budgets for continent-crossing flights for racers from elite, U23, and junior divisions, as well as their accompanying entourage of staffers.
“It is very, very expensive. Some countries like Ireland have decided not to participate in the world championships,” French team director Christophe Manin told AFP.
“We asked ourselves whether we were taking all the categories, even the juniors. We did it. But we don’t have the means to put everyone in business.”
Manin insisted the decision to give only the men’s team the upgrade was based on winning potential.
Audrey Cordon-Ragot withdrew from the French women’s team this week and left a gap at the top of “Les Bleus” in the time trial and road races. Évita Muzik and Juliette Labous will instead carry French hopes into the road race next weekend.
“For men, we’ve been world champions for two years and are really going there to win, while we are now in the position of outsiders at the women’s race,” Manin said.
Manin added multiple cross-country rainbow jersey Pauline Ferrand-Prévot and European champion Loana Lecomte would get tickets for the front of the airplane if a similar situation occurred in the MTB calendar.
“If the mountain bike worlds were in Australia we would have the same economic choices to make. And we’d put the women in business and the men in economy,” he said.