Patrick Lefevere has again come under fire for controversial remarks, suggesting that introducing a minimum salary for Women’s WorldTeams has ‘artificially pushed’ women’s cycling forward.
In an interview published in the Krant van West-Vlaanderen, the Soudal-QuickStep boss says the top-tier of women’s cycling has yet to progress enough for all its riders to earn a base wage in the same way as men’s cycling.
“I certainly and firmly believe in the potential of women’s cycling, certainly don’t get me wrong, only at the moment it is artificially pushed. Take, for example, the minimum wage: in the WorldTour, it’s €60,000 on an annual basis, the same amount as the men’s. That’s not OK,” Lefevere told Krant van West-Vlaanderen.
“Again: don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge them, but there are riders who are not worth that amount at all. In the Tour [de France Femmes] last year, for example, they had to raise the time limit because otherwise, half the peloton would have arrived outside the time limit. Surely you don’t pay someone who can’t compete, €60,000? There are certainly riders who earn that amount, and some much more, but today the top in women’s cycling is just not broad enough to justify that minimum wage.”
The UCI introduced minimum salaries for Women’s WorldTeams in 2020, which was a crucial step as part of its reforms to help improve the overall progress and professionalisation of women’s cycling. And while Continental teams are not obliged to pay a base salary, some of them currently do.
The amount has increased to €32,102 (employed) / €52,647 (self-employed) in 2023. However, the base wage amount does not equal what men earn for racing in the WorldTour.
Lefevere appeared to have limited knowledge of the historical inequities between men’s and women’s cycling, revealing that he considered partnering with a women’s team, which has now grown to become AG Insurance-Soudal-QuickStep, when he found out that some women athletes earn as little as €250 a month.
“That’s not possible, is it? Then I decided I had to do something … If you do it, do it well. Otherwise, it’s better not to start. It will take time, and we have to build, but in time we will be at the top with the women,” Lefevere told Krant van West-Vlaanderen.
Cyclingnews published a in-depth article, Racing below the breadline: The women’s cycling omertà, which detailed the challenges that many women athletes face in cycling, including working one or two additional jobs in order…
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