The Roar
The Roar


Lombardy, Astana's dirty duo, and women’s prize money (again)

Is it so unreasonable that women get something close to parity in terms of prize money? (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
3rd October, 2014

It wasn’t so much that there wasn’t enough to write about on any one of the subjects in the title of this article, more that all three are deserving of attention.

The first because it is constantly overlooked, the second because it is an example of the wilfully overlooked, and the third because well, it’s worth looking at (again).

So, not so much as a ‘Top 3 talking points’ but more like ‘Top 3 things that suck’.

What sucks about the Giro di Lombardia is that very few people seem to be bothered taking it seriously. A travesty!

The Classic of the Dead Leaves (or a classica delle foglie morte for those who’ve eaten all their spaghetti) is just that, a proper classic.

The first edition was in 1905, which makes it 108 this year, an age bettered by very few one-day races anywhere. It was originally called Milan-Milan for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but it does lack a little in the imagination. Not that that should detract any from what is a magnificent race.

The route has changed a great deal over the years but the two constants are Lake Como and the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, the latter of which is one of the iconic landmarks in world cycling. Sean Kelly and the great Henri Pelissier are the only non-Italians to win the race three times, the Italians having dominated the event, winning a whopping 67 times. Belgium’s seven wins has them second in the rankings.

Why is it so good? It’s not just the length that its been running, it’s the hilly parcours, the winding lanes that feature towards the end no matter, it seems, where it finishes, the Madonna climb, the sweeping views of the lake, the fact it is in Italy and they are mad for it, the fact Fausto Coppi won it five times, and because it just is a proper classic of a one dayer.


Why has it been neglected so often? Well it doesn’t help that the organisers change the route so much, nor that it comes at the end of the year and after the Worlds, when many a fan is ready to hibernate or do something unfeasibly ridiculous like build up a fixie and buy a flat-nebbed baseball hat, nor that it has had its name changed from the Giro di Lombardia (its proper name), to Il Lombardia and finally now to the Tour of Lombardy.

Get a grip, please, Signori! Anyway, watch it, you’ll be suitably rewarded.

On to Astana. First Valentin Iglinsky then Maxin Iglinsky get popped for le dopage. Well done lads, maître must be proud, she’s raised a proper little pair hasn’t she?

I raced against both these guys and I didn’t like them. That was a few years ago now, and there was a rumour that all was not as it seemed.

Ah well, they got them in the end I suppose, though not until both got some decent cash out of their flaunting of those things, what are they called… ah yes – almost forgotten them – the rules.

So what would you recommend? If you have two riders on your team busted for doping shouldn’t the management get a special prize? Perhaps the UCI could dock the team 500 UCI points and see how they get on the next time their World Tour license comes up for revision? Or maybe we just do… nothing.

I vote for the latter. Why change things now, when they are running so smoothly.


And finally, at the back end, as they usually are, the women.

What an absolute load of tosh I have been reading these past few days after what was in all honesty a dull old World Championships. Many male commentators watched the women’s race and then said it was boring so they should shut up about equal prize money. A reasoned point of view that one, well done lads.

One that needs no further comment, really.

But more seriously, I have first-hand experience with the difficulty of changing things around when it comes to getting the pay levels raised.

I am a consultant for a big Asian race and we have several fantastic female riders coming over, absolute top-level riders. In fact, so good is the women’s list that it rather puts the men’s in the shade, and more than a little. This in spite of the fact that the men’s prize pot is something like five times bigger than the women’s.

And yet there are several top female cyclists mailing me and still wanting to come. Why? Because they very often race for absolutely nothing, and something is better than nothing.

The other reason is that several male riders won’t get out of bed for less than a few grand. The vast majority of female riders though are living proof that women do not get into this sport to get rich – they truly are doing it for the love.


I’d like the pot for each to be the same, but I am not funding the event. It really is a step-by-step deal. It is frustrating, and I am probably going to get in trouble for saying this, but it should, absolutely, be equal. But the sponsors have different ideas.

So we hope for success this year, to have something tangible to show, and then we push for more next.

Something even close would be good, and that is something many women who race desire, and many who moan on about this issue don’t get – it is not necessarily absolute parity that most demand, just to get somewhere close.

It’s something like 400 euro for the winner of the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad race, and 95,000 euro for the men. I mean, seriously?

And on that note, enjoy Il Tour di Lombadia on Sunday!