In the past decade, women’s cycling has gained immense popularity, but it has long been plagued by gender inequality. However, the introduction of the Women’s WorldTour in 2016 has revolutionised women’s cycling, providing an unprecedented platform for female cyclists to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level. The Women’s WorldTour has not only boosted the popularity of women’s cycling but has also empowered female cyclists to challenge gender stereotypes and break barriers.
From Inequality to Empowerment: The Women’s WorldTour
Before the introduction of the Women’s WorldTour, women’s cycling was riddled with inequality. Female cyclists were not paid equally, and they had fewer opportunities and races compared to their male counterparts. The Women’s WorldTour not only begins to offer equal prize money for women more regularly but also mandates better treatment for female cyclists regarding accommodation, transport, and exposure. The Women’s WorldTour has provided a closer level playing field for female cyclists, which has boosted their confidence and encouraged them to push their limits.
Moreover, the Women’s WorldTour has also created a platform for female cyclists to challenge gender stereotypes and inspire young girls to pursue cycling. Female cyclists are not only recognised for their physical abilities but are also celebrated for their grit, determination, and passion for the sport. The Women’s WorldTour has empowered female cyclists to break barriers and prove that women can excel in traditionally male-dominated sports.
Breaking Barriers: The Key Players and Their Achievements
The Women’s WorldTour has witnessed several key players who have shattered barriers and left indelible marks on the sport. Cyclists like Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen have dominated the Women’s WorldTour since its introduction, exemplifying the strength and resilience of female cyclists. They have not only won races but also used their platform to advocate for gender equality in cycling.
Riders like Marianne Vos, Christine Majerus, Ellen van Dijk, Audrey Cordon-Ragot and Elisa Longo Borghini have been a steady presence, winning races and being key advocates to push forward women’s cycling.
The Future of Women’s Cycling: Challenges and Opportunities
Despite the progress made by the Women’s WorldTour, women’s cycling still faces several challenges. There have been great improvements in the amount of live coverage but some races still lack televised coverage or not enough coverage so miss key moments. Some races have limited media exposure and can be hard to follow online, whilst unequal pay is still an issue. Some races have struggled to continue in the current economic climate but even before then we have lost races from the calendar. For 2023, it’s the Women’s Tour in trouble but we’ve previously seen the likes of the Tour of California drop.
These are some of the significant obstacles that need to be addressed to achieve true gender equality in cycling. However, the Women’s WorldTour has created opportunities for female cyclists, which have never been seen before. The situation is improving massively compared to around ten years ago but there is still much to do.
The future of women’s cycling looks bright, with the Women’s WorldTour leading the way. With more races, increased media coverage, and equal pay to at least the male ProTour, female cyclists are poised to take the sport to new heights. Without the success since the introduction of the Women’s WorldTour, races like the Tour de France Femmes wouldn’t be possible. The next 5 years are crucial for the sport to prove that the recent gains in women’s cycling are here to stay.