South African rider Ashleigh Moolman Pasio has pointed out a “fundamental flaw” to the UCI reforms announced this week.
Earlier this week, the UCI committed to the “reinforcement of the professionalisation of women’s road cycling”, announcing a two-tier system of WorldTeams and Continental Teams, a minimum salary and a thorough, independent examination of all rider contracts.
It also pledged equal peloton sizes in road races and Olympic Games, following the furore surrounding the differences between men and women at Tokyo 2020.
And while Moolman Pasio, who has recently signed from Cervelo Bigla to the new CCC Team (Waowdeals), is encouraged by the focus on rider working conditions, creating safer environments and protecting female riders, she has called for a strategy to increase exposure to the sport, to enable teams to meet the new standards.
The multiple national champion said: “It’s a very ambitious plan and I’m all for ambitious plans or dreams, but I do feel there is a fundamental flaw around the reforms.
“What concerns me is there is this new push in a very short space of time to hugely change the structure of women’s cycling and to just introduce minimum standards. What hasn’t been addressed is what is being done around exposure of women’s cycling to enable the teams to meet these requirements. That is the flaw.
“It’s a bit like the chicken and egg theory. I don’t want to be negative and there is a lot of positivity, female cyclists putting their opinions out there saying these are great steps forward. I think the work Iris (Slappendel), Gracie (Elvin) and Carmen (Small), and the Cyclist Allianceare doing around this is particularly admirable.”
“I am one for seeing that. I am a dreamer, I have big dreams and ambitions. But I am also a very logical person, with an engineering background and there needs to be a strategy in place to help teams achieve that.”
Moolman Pasio has experienced firsthand teams struggling to survive. She and her family invested lifetime savings in Cervelo Bigla in 2015 when the team only had one headline sponsor and was on the brink of folding.
She is aware other riders may not be fortunate enough to be able to do this, and emphasised these reforms would be difficult for some teams to achieve by 2020.
“If we aren’t careful these new reforms might be the end of many teams,” she continued. “Rather than to see the sport growing, and flourishing and growing in depth, we might find there is only a handful that can continue and survive and that to me is the scary side.”
For her full thoughts on the reforms, head to the latest Voxwomen Insider Powered by Canyon podcast episode, which also includes a preview of the World Championships, with host Abby Mickey and rider-turned-commentator and Cyclist’s Alliance founder Iris Slappendel.