Women secure prize equality
Anna Meares is a member of the group that argued it was unfair that women world champions received less prize money from the UCI than men. Photo: Ken Robertson
FUNDAMENTAL gender inequity has been erased from cycling's rule book with a decision by the sport's world governing body to award equal prize money to male and female world champions from next year.
While elite female road professionals will continue to lobby the Union Cycliste Internationale for minimum wages, they can celebrate the raised status of being world's best.
UCI boss Pat McQuaid enraged women riders last year by saying he did not support enforced minimum salaries for elite female cyclists but he has hailed the ''very important step'' of increasing the financial reward for women who win world titles in almost every discipline.
Cycling still has much to address where equality for women is concerned. A major gain of late - Australian Tracey Gaudry this month became the first female member of the UCI's management committee - has been countered by the recent blow of the only women's stage race in Oceania, the Tour of New Zealand, being cancelled for next year.
The decision to pay world champions equally comes after the matter was tabled by the UCI's athletes' commission in November. Australian sprint champion Anna Meares, a 10-time world champion on the track, is a member of the group that argued it was unfair that women world champions received less prize money from the UCI than men.
Meares will not be back-paid for her past victories but will be satisfied that she would be rewarded equally for any future world title wins.
The female winners at the Cyclo-cross World Championships next February will be the first to profit from the change and the only event where women will not receive equal prize money for a world title is the road team time trial.
''The management committee's approval is a simple but very important step forward in our effort to guarantee a healthy and fair future for our sport,'' McQuaid said of the development.
In an interview with Fairfax Media early this year, McQuaid was reluctant to discuss discrimination issues in women's cycling, saying he did not want to weigh into controversial territory after Australian road racer Chloe Hosking called him a ''dick''.
Hosking, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, received a suspended $200 fine from Cycling Australia for her uncomplimentary description of the most powerful man in world cycling - a comment she made in response to McQuaid's views on minimum salaries for elite female riders.