Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) is only 27 but has been in the elite peloton since her first year out of the junior ranks and has risen along with women’s professional cycling amid drastic improvements over the past decade. Speaking ahead of the opening Spring Classic, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kopecky spoke in favour of the UCI-imposed minimum salaries for women.
“They need to be [in place] because otherwise, women’s cycling will not grow,” Kopecky said, adding that riders need to be able to live from pro cycling and not have to work at the same time, “because then there will always be this big gap.”
Kopecky was defending the salary rules only because Patrick Lefevere, who owns the AG Insurance-Soudal-Quickstep elite and development teams and men’s WorldTeam, last week criticized the minimum salaries saying “women’s cycling is just not broad enough to justify” a minimum wage of €60,000.
[The current minimum for Women’s WorldTeams is €26,849 for employed neo-pros, €32,102 for experienced riders, and more for self-employed riders who don’t earn the same benefits. Only self-employed experienced riders will have a minimum salary that exceeds €60,000 but not until 2025. – ed]
However, Lefevere’s own rider, Belgian Justine Ghekiere, made him eat those words when she escaped on the final day to win the overall Setmana Valenciana last weekend. When asked about the result, Kopecky joked, “I think it was a nice middle finger from them.”
Kopecky said she felt the development of women’s cycling was proceeding at the right speed and not advancing too quickly.
“I think we’re just moving at the right speed,” she said. “Every year there are little adjustments. The evolution we saw in the last years is very nice, we also see very nice races and a lot of spectacle.”
One of those spectacles was Kopecky winning the Tour of Flanders while wearing the Belgian champion’s jersey in front of a huge crowd and television audience. This year, the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad joins the Women’s WorldTour after being on the Pro Series in 2021 and 2022, and a 1.1-ranked race since 2016. It will also finish after the men’s, ensuring the viewers stick around for their races. The shift, a decision by organisers Flanders Classics, vastly improved the ratings for the women’s races.
With the modified course giving the women a chance to compete over the old Tour of Flanders finale that includes the Muur van Geraardsbergen and Bosberg climbs, Kopecky says Omloop is worthy of the WorldTour.
“It’s a very…
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