Pat MacQuaid stated at the World Championships that women’s cycling was “not developed enough” for a guaranteed minimum wage. Some riders (Vos, Teutenberg, Bronzini et al) saw that as a disqualification of their performance but it wasn’t. It was a disqualification of the federation’s performance.
After all, international federations have been given a mandate by the IOC to govern and promote their sport worldwide – for men and women. So if the women’s side fails to develop properly, who’s to blame? In 2006, Pat McQuaid gave an interview with womenscycling.net where he stated:
[...] since I have been involved and responsible for women, it was important to ensure that we had the development of the World Cup. This was very much the major item on the agenda a few years ago. I also wanted to make sure that it was truly a World Cup and not a European one like the men’s competition. I have always worked hard within the UCI to ensure and maintain an Australian and New Zealand connection.
Today, the World Cup has no race in New Zealand or Australia, in fact 8 of the 9 races are in Europe. Even more worrisome is the situation with stage races, where the biggest and best races are struggling or have already disappeared. The bottom line; races are really struggling to survive.
Ironically, the developments on the team side are actually quite positive. Every year sees a few new teams popping up, for 2012 GreenEdge and Rabobank mark the newest WorldTour organizations to feature a women’s team too. The biggest problem right now are the races and the exposure. Both could be solved easily with a little bit of help from the UCI, more about that tomorrow.
However, this does not absolve the riders of their personal responsibility. As I have stated before, you can’t complain about a lack of exposure if you’re not blogging and twittering yourself to promote your sport. If every rider did their bit, it would add up. I’d like to point out Carla Ryan as a good example. When I made the comment about riders not being on twitter back in March, she sent me an email saying “Saw your comment, signed up for Twitter”. Today she has more than 500 followers.