The women cyclists who competed in this year’s Tour Down Under (TDU), staged before the men’s event, will have their prize money topped up to the same amount as their male counterparts.
After talks with international cycling authorities, the South Australian Government has announced it will tip in about $90,000 so the women and men TDU competitors are treated equally.
The initial women’s prize pool had been about $15,000.
SA Sport Minister Leon Bignell said the women competitors could look forward to top-up cheques.
“This is the first major bike race in the world where there’ll be equality amongst men and women, where the pay cheques will be exactly the same,” he said.
“So terrific news for women’s cycling — when they go out there they train just as hard as the men.
“When they break bones it hurts just as much as the men.”
Australian Amanda Spratt won this year’s women’s TDU as well as taking out the Queen of the Mountain as the best climber.
The men race their final stage on an Adelaide street circuit today, with Daryl Impey and Richie Porte locked at the top of the leader board.
Huge advance for women in sport
Women’s TDU race director Kimberley Conte applauded the recognition of female cyclists’ efforts.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the announcement of equal prize money,” she said.
“This is a huge leap forward not only for our women’s Tour Down Under riders, but female athletes all over the world.”
International cycling executive, Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) president David Lappartient, said women competitors would get a better deal globally.
“I am a strong advocate for women’s empowerment in sports in general and cycling more specifically,” he said.
“The UCI has indeed introduced equal prize money for men and women across all UCI world championships and world cups.
“It is fantastic [for] South Australia [to] take the lead, elevating women in sport through offering equal prize money for male and female competitors in the Tour Down Under [and] I am confident equal prize money will support a significant transformation for women in cycling.”
Wind tunnel planned for velodrome
Adelaide’s cycling Super-Drome in the northern suburbs is to get an upgrade, including construction of a wind tunnel which will allow Olympic athletes and professional teams from around the world test their bikes, helmets and riding techniques.
The South Australian Government said it would be the only velodrome in the world with such a facility, and it hoped Australian cyclists would have a winning edge as they prepared for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Cycling champion Anna Meares welcomed the addition of a wind tunnel.
“To have a world-class facility such as a state-of-the-art wind tunnel on the doorstep of the Super-Drome, where some of the best cycling programmes in the world are, will not only open up massive opportunity for our athletes to improve their sport but many industries will be able to access and use this cutting-edge technology,” she said.
There will also be a BMX training facility built next to the Super-Drome, which was opened in the early 1990s as the headquarters of Cycling SA.