Why 2022 will be a better year for women's cycling
December 25, 2021
Photo by A.S.O./Fabien Boukla
Over the years women cycling has been improving. Slowly, but improving. With recent years positive changes have been more frequent and more impactful, so as we head into 2022, it would only be fair to review all the changes that are planned for it. Let’s look into WorldTeams for next year, race calendar and salary changes.
New WorldTour teams for 2022
While in 2021 women’s WorldTour consisted of 9 teams, in 2022 we will see 14, an addition of 5 teams. Although it seems some équipes hired the same designer for their 2022 kits, this makes me super excited. More teams and riders competing means more quality races and better conditions for cyclists. On top of that, UCI will require race organisers to invite not only the 14 UCI Women’s WorldTeams, but also the two best UCI Women’s Continental Teams. This means that more women will be noticed and be able to compete on a higher level. New teams are:
Team Jumbo-Visma. Previously having UCI team status, in 2022 it will become a WorldTour. Nothing really new about this team, it still has a lot of strong riders as it did before.
EF Education-Tibco-SVB. A USA based team that will employ 13 riders, and together with 2 more teams- Trek-Segafredo and BikeExchange made a pledge to pay their female riders the same minimum salary as men’s WorldTour riders.
Uno-X Pro Cycling. The Scandinavian-based fuel and energy brand offers a great environment for employees, new responsibilities for experienced riders that might have been stuck in their previous roles as well as the same salary as their men’s team is earning. Norway has always been a progressive country that does not differentiate people by gender, so in my opinion, this is one of the best employers for the 2022 season.
Human Powered Health. HPH takes over title sponsorship from Rally for 2022 and 2023.
Roland-Cogeas-Edelweiss Squad. 6 riders from previously known as Cogeas-Mettler Pro Cycling Team, which flew under Russian flag will continue their adventures under a new name and they will be accompanied by a handful of international riders.
UAE team is worth mentioning. Taking on the licence from Alé-BTC-Ljubljana is a more controversial team in my opinion. The UAE is known for its gender inequality, so you cannot help but feel a tiny bit worried. Is all sponsorship good as long as it allows a sport discipline to prosper? As Katy Madgwick wrote in her article:
Morally grey sponsors aren’t a new thing to the sport so for now, it will be a case of seeing past the name on the jersey to the riders being afforded a huge opportunity that they might not otherwise have been handed.
One of the riders for this team is my country’s super star- Olivija Baleisyte and I couldn’t be happier for her. I cannot wait to see her on TV going head-to-head with the best athletes in today’s world.
Having more teams only improves cycling. It gives more opportunities and contributes to closing the gap in differences based on gender. Younger riders will have more chances of turning professional and we, spectators, will be presented with a better quality coverage of women’s cycling, which on multiple occasions proved to be as exciting, if not more, than men’s.
Image credit: Team Jumbo-Visma women
Okay, this is the most exciting part. Women’s World Tour will nearly double in race days, from 37 to 70. The biggest new addition on the calendar is the eight-day Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift that will take place from July 24 to 31, directly after the men’s Tour de France. If you somehow managed to miss the 2021 inaugural Paris-Roubaix Femmes, this is your chance to redeem yourself.
Another exciting news is that Giro d’Italia Donne, or Giro Rosa, will be back in 2022. This race ran from 2016 to 2020, but was demoted to 2.Pro for 2021 after organizers failed to comply with UCI WWT regulations.
A couple more stage races that were held before, will see an increase in days. I’d like to mention the Ladies Tour of Norway that will become the Battle of the North. It will take place in August and unfold in 6 days. I always loved the men’s edition of Tour of Norway and hopefully this will be similar. You cannot help but feel captivated by the landscapes that riders are passing. As I will be rooting for the Uno-X squad in 2022, after reading an interview with Jens Haugland, I expect the Battle of the North to be one of their main goals for the 2022 season.
Up the Muur van Geraardsbergen at 2017 Tour of Flanders Women (Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
One of the most controversial topics when it comes to women’s cycling. There have been numerous stories talking about athletes that have full time or at least part time jobs. Imagine competing at the highest level in the world and then recovering during your shift at a supermarket. It is nuts. Well, good news is that according to UCI, things are bound to change:
This minimum salary for salaried female riders was €15,000 in 2020, rising to €20,000 in 2021. It will reach €27,500 in 2022, before joining the minimum salary for riders of the men’s UCI ProTeams (second level of men’s professional road cycling teams*) in 2023, which is currently €32,100.
Teams like Uno-X, Trek-Segafredo, BikeExchange and others are making a noticeable dent into the issue as well, creating a new norm and pushing out teams that are not complying with gender equality.
On the other hand…
There is race coverage. If you can call it that. Trying to keep up with professional women’s cycling is extremely frustrating, because live coverage is a joke on most occasions. At least it has been couple years back. As per UCI regulations, a WorldTour event has to have at least 45 minutes of coverage, for unknown reasons, the Giro Rosa has managed to circumvent this regulation while it was WorldTour race before 2021. Alongside the limit on stage distance. These two reasons got them relegated for 2020.
Thanks to the reddit user epi_counts for pointing out that this year’s Women’s Tour didn’t have live coverage, and seems to be getting away with it.
Over the past year or so, GCN has been making women cycling more accessible for viewers, but it is only an organization which brings live pictures to the consumer. If there is no one following the peloton and providing those images, there is nothing to bring. To be fair, live coverage has been improved. In 2021 we had the majority of WWT races covered and inaugural Paris-Roubaix had its own day in the calendar instead of being piggybacked on men’s. With the gender equality movement going strong year after year, we should expect conditions to become only better.
Image credit: Albert Valero / Movistar Team
Things are looking up
2021 has been really promising for women’s cycling. Increase in salaries, first Paris-Roubaix and more coverage means a more professional environment for everyone involved, starting with athletes all the way to us, fans. 2022 looks even better. With double the race days, minimum salary closing in on men’s, inaugural races that will most certainly make history and more people investing in teams and riders. We are in for a treat. So if you haven’t been following women’s cycling, 2022 is a great time to start!
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