As mentioned in ‘Feel The Rush- of Endless Street Parties’, cycling has always been in my life. No, this will not be another article praising the sport and its races, rather one of disgust and disappointment.
From April through to the end of May, there are events called the Spring Classics. The Monuments, ridden on cobblestones are only raced for one day in an epic battle for the win. Typically being belted through the elements rain hail or shine, these are some of the best races of the year. Both male and female events are held for almost each race, but as per usual, the males garner much more attention than that of their female counterparts.
One of the Spring Classics is the E3 Harelbeke, held in The Netherlands- if you couldn’t tell from the name. In what some dubbed an ‘iconic’ (rolls eyes) moment in 2013, sprint king peter Sagan pinched the bottom of the podium girl whilst she was congratulating race winner, Fabian Cancellara. Ok, so we move on, it wasn’t the best thing to do, Sagan wins races and podium girls continue with their lives.
February 24 2015: The promotional poster for the 2015 edition of the race is released.
Yes. That is the poster. And THAT is the response from some of the most respected people in cycling. In a sport where women are struggling for the minimal recognition they get, this is how we promote a monument; a girls ass.
The poster, for a bicycle race consisting of MALES racing for a win, is being promoted through the behind of a girl and a man’s hand about to pinch/slap it. The backlash was as followed:
Let me put this in perspective: Women’s cycling gets little to no coverage. I challenge you to name four, just four, female cyclists. I’ll bet one of them is Anna Meares, right?
When Nicole Cooke retired after the 2012 Olympics, it came at the same time that Lance armstrong was outed as an asshole. Nicole Cooke is one of the most prolific cyclists in history. Olympic, Commonwealth and World Champion, she was one of the best. “Look at women’s tennis, and its global superstars. The UCI (International Cycling Union) is cutting all that potential in half just by focusing on the men’s side. It could have two hugely rewarding sports going on. You have to ask what the people are doing who run our sport,” That was said in 2013.
That was two years ago. what has progressed?
Yes, a womens Tour Down Under, slightly more funding yet still, there are more negatives than positives. Most professional females are lucky to make $15,000 and as a result, many of the most promising athletes have to retire prematurely because they simply cannot afford to ride. For the women Giro d’Italia, the total amount of prize money for the entire race was 17,600 EURO. The overall winner, Marianne Vos, one of cycling most incredible athletes in both male and female terms, went home with a mere 535 EURO. Thats roughly $780AUD. She rode mountains, has a strenuous regime to follow for just 535 EURO. The mens overall winner, Nairo Quintana, took home 200,000. See, we have an issue here.
Was this the smartest move for marketing? Was the slogan really appropriate (translates roughly means ‘who will be squeezed this year’)? WHY is it even a thing? Probably not the best move for a professional event.
So this really wasn’t limited to cycling, it demonstrates an overall inequality between genders. This is an example that had arisen over the past few days. And in a sport where women are racing just as hard as men, deserving just as much recognition, they are objectified by a governing body of a race to podium girls with pinchable bottoms.
Yeah, nice one.