Pat McQuaid was asked about a minimum wage for women riders, and said he didn’t think the sport had the level yet. Vos, Teutenberg, Bronzini and others took offense and were said to support the idea for a minimum wage. So this seems to be as good a time as any to delve into this issue.
As you may know, the Garmin-Cervelo women’s team has a minimum wage (and I believe it’s the only team to have one). The decision to do this was easy, the implementation not so easy. What should it be? With a Dutch rider living in Spain riding for an American team registered in the UK, there’s no shortage of rates you can pick. And do you make it a true full-time wage that you can expect people to live off? Or is that simply not possible with the economics of women cycling? The countries that were most relevant to our team were as follows (using wikipedia and recalculating from International dollars to Euros):
- UK: 14,600 Euro
- Netherlands: 16,800 Euro
- Spain: 9,000 Euro
- USA: 13,000 Euro
As you can see, that’s quite a spread. To keep it easy, we went with 18,000 Euro (1500/mo) as the standard minimum wage on the team. We then made an exception for the minimum wage for neo-pros, which we put at 12,000 Euro (1000/mo). We felt this was necessary as a principle, to ensure fast flow through of young riders to the highest level. In men’s cycling, neo-pros also have a lower minimum salaries. And we figured that over time, we could raise the minimum wage level, while it would be hard to go the other way round.
It’s by no means a get-rich-quick scheme, but it’s a start and better than having riders race a whole season for free, as it still the case for about a quarter of the women’s peloton (this is a pretty rough estimate of questionable origin, but it sounds about right. If I were a journalist, I wouldn’t have mentioned it).
Tomorrow we’ll see how it all compares to the men, so if you don’t want to miss that, subscribe here.
NOTE Oct 5, 2011 – I corrected the UK minimum wage, I had typed 19,600 Euro, this should have been 14,600 Euro. Thanks to Andrew P for pointing out the error