A change to the advertised schedule…

So, usually in the week after a Road World Cup, I’d be putting up the 26 minute UCI highlights video, having already put up a post with their short highlights video and photos, race reports and more the day after the race.  But, while it was the 2015 Tour of ChongMing Island World Cup on Sunday, we won’t be having anything from the UCI this year.  Why?  I have no idea.  They gave us all of that last year, and a short video in 2013, so if you want to see any moving images from this year’s race, all you can do is look at Wiggle Honda’s video.

It’s frustrating, because while the UCI talks about how women’s cycling media is their priority, but so far this year we’ve much had less overall than we did last year, even when eg the Ronde van Drenthe was streamed in Dutch.  And it’s especially frustrating, because ChongMing, being in China, is so much harder to get information on than the other rounds, and has additional obstacles for teams racing there, from travel and visa issues through to riders having to be hyper-vigilant not to eat contaminated meat.  I have to wonder why the UCI think teams will continue to go through all of that to race there, when even the governing body has the race on a lower tier than all the other World Cup.  Sure, there are points, but ChongMing never impacts on the overall World Cup which is, I’m sure, a reason why teams like Boels-Dolmans, Rabo-Liv, Velocio-SRAM, Liv-Plantur and ORICA-AIS skipped it this year.

Sigh.  So I’m looking for some women’s cycling good news, but what I find it this – Lucy Martin writing on the Matrix Procycling site about what happened with Estado de Mexico-Faren last year, how she wasn’t paid, and the UCI couldn’t help.  This stood out:

I decided this was the best time to retell what happened after my latest phone conversion with the UCI, which has kind of concluded the case. I was advised that taking legal action against my former team would be costly and high risk and simply not worth doing seeing as I already have missed nine months salary. So that option has gone. As this has taken so long, my second option to pursue payment via the UCI Bank Guarantee put in place under the UCI rules was also not an option, as that has now expired. In any case, the UCI informed me it was likely the bank guarantee for the team was never in fact set up and even if it was, it is so difficult to communicate with the Mexican Federation and the fact that there be other creditors owed this money, that this isn’t really an option and that is impossible to receive.

Ugh.  So much wrong with this – the only bright spot is how impressed I am with Lucy for speaking out, because as I’ve written before, there is huge pressure on riders to keep quiet when they’re exploited (and not only financially, but also sexually, I’m still horrified about that), and last year was at least the third year I’d heard rumours that riders on a Faren team were unpaid.

So, I think I’ll stop typing now, because it’s all so depressing.  There are bright spots – confusedspider just pointed out there are 2015 RaboLiv videos on vimeo that I hadn’t known about, and there’s some great racing set to be streamed, or watched on replay this week – crits and MTB – and on Monday there’s live video from the USA National Championships.  So it always could be worse!  But still, if you want me, I’ll be the one in the corner with my head under a blanket, feeling miserable.

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I am so sick of reading these stories

2014 was a really exciting year for women’s cycling, with a lot more video of races, new teams appearing, and I genuinely believe that the UCI women’s commission is doing it’s best to try to change the culture around women’s cycling.  So it’s depressing to read this article on La Bicicleta México, alleging Mexican riders on Estado de México-Faren not only haven’t been paid, but also have faced discrimination within the team and unacceptable treatment from team staff.

These stories are depressingly familiar.  Every year I hear off the record reports about riders just not being paid, or being treated badly, and when they complain, nothing happens as a result.  When I tweeted about this, some people justifiably asked me why riders don’t talk about this publicly, but there’s something incredibly insidious about these situations, because riders who ‘rock the boat’ by complaining then face the inherent risks in being seen to be ‘difficult’.

Within cycling, reputation is really important – it is a team sport, after all, so if a rider is seen as ‘difficult’, even if she’s raising issues she’s got every right to complain about, she has less of a chance of getting a berth on another team, and could end up blacklisted.  And then you hear about riders going to the UCI to complain about not getting paid, and the only result being the team sacking her, taking her bike away and denying her the opportunity to ride, and that can be the end of a career she’s sacrificed so much for, gone in an instant.

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