The Cyclists’ Alliance rider survey highlights two-tier disparities

“There were athletes racing this year’s Tour De France Femmes who received no salary from their team racing against riders earning a triple figure salary."

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The Independent union for the women’s peloton, The Cyclists’ Alliance (TCA), released the results of their annual Rider Survey on Wednesday. Now in its fifth year, the survey is designed to build a picture of the working conditions within the women’s peloton.

The survey was completed by 124 riders across multiple disciplines with 44% of the respondents racing for WorldTour teams.

As has been the case for many seasons, the survey uncovered that while pay and conditions for those WorldTour riders is improving year-on-year, there is still a significant disparity between those top-tier riders and their Continental counterparts.

Riders gave their opinion on the most pertinent issues for the peloton

While 73% of riders surveyed reported being ‘Very Happy’ or ‘Happy’, a 30% increase since 2021, thanks to “increasing professionalism of teams through rider-focused initiatives such as; professional training camps including the addition of altitude training, media training, race analysis and tactical skill development, specialist staff hires such as nutritionists and mental coaches,” 11% of riders are reportedly ‘Unhappy’ or ‘Very Unhappy’ in their team citing “poor management team and pressured into situations they feel uncomfortable with.”

In terms of pay, the outlook is positive for WWT riders with many reporting they earn salaries of “significantly more than the minimum requirement regulated by the UCI” with 13% of WWT riders surveyed earning over €100K+ per year (up 11% from 2021) and 24% of WWT riders earning between 60,000 – 100,000 Euros per year (up 17%).

Lack of a liveable salary means that many riders are unable to sustain a living through the sport

Outside of the WWT, however, where there is no UCI-mandated minimum salary, only 15% of female professional cyclists received an income of 20,000 EUR or more “and there are still a vast number (23%) of riders racing with no income from their Continental team,” TCA reports. Although this figure is down from 2021 when it was 34%.

In 2021 TCA reported that “ensuring that all riders earn a minimum salary was one of the top topics that riders requested TCA to continue to advocate for.”

This year, TCA wrote: “There were athletes racing this year’s Tour De France Femmes who received no salary from their team racing against riders earning a triple figure salary.”

“The UCI should consider solutions to mitigate and the TCA is happy to be consulted as unfortunately “Financial reasons” remains the main reason for leaving the sport of professional cycling earlier than planned for female cyclists.”

The survey also found that 30% of riders now enlist the services of rider agents in negotiating contracts  “but this skews 81% WWT riders to 24% Continental Riders.”

Another recurrent finding is that riders who already earn below minimum wage are being asked to reimburse their teams for expenses relating to their job. 28% of the riders surveyed have had to repay the costs necessary to be a professional cyclist. Naturally, this means that only 54% of the riders surveyed are able to rely on cycling as their sole income.

Elsewhere, TCA asked riders what they considered the most essential factor in growing the sport with 56% responding that increasing live TV coverage “is a key topic for the stakeholders in the sport to focus on.”

The survey also questioned which resources offered by TCA were considered most important by riders with ‘legal services’ coming out on top (58%), educational resources (e.g webinars on a variety of topics including nutrition, medical, contracts, etc) second 46%, and consulting TCA’s ethics officer third (36%).

“TCA believes the only way to change women’s cycling for the better is to work together as a unified body of athletes to identify issues,” the union wrote. “By tackling these together, we can create lasting positive change.”

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