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.