Analysis: What will be the purse of the Tour de France Women?

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Cycling is on the verge of a milestone in 2022 with the first Tour de France Women, a new stage race that brings all the prestige and marketing power of the Tour and the ASO race owners.

Having the weight of ASO and the backing of a top sponsor like Zwift guarantees the success of the new addition to the Women’s WorldTour right from the start.

Thursday’s official presentation will fill a lot of the gaps in the course, course profiles, host cities and other details of what could very well soon be the most important stage race on the international women’s calendar.

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An interesting, perhaps more thorny question – perhaps one that won’t be addressed in Thursday’s high-profile presentation – will be how many cash prizes will be in sight for the winner of the first edition.

It is a question fraught with promise and controversy. And it’s going to be interesting to see how ASO and the other race sponsors handle this.

The silver price gap for cycling

Speaking to AFPTour de France director Christian Prudhomme addressed the issue and said ASO is investing in women’s cycling for growth.

“The controversy does not come from the champions, but from people far removed from the world of sport and economic reality,” said Prudhomme. AFP. “It’s an investment, that’s clear. Women’s races are losing money. I hope this will not be the case for the Tour de France Women.

As the campaign for equality between the male and female pelotons gains momentum, many will see the Tour de France Women’s prize total as an important indicator of the situation.

Earlier this month, the women’s peloton also crossed a historic milestone with its highly successful edition of Paris-Roubaix Femmes, another race owned and managed by ASO.

By most accounts, the race was a resounding success. A plague? The difference in price in money.

The male winner pocketed € 30,000 of a total purse of € 90,000, while Lizzie Deignan, who made history as the first winner, received € 1,535 of a purse of € 7,000. Trek-Segafredo, Deignan’s sponsor, stepped in to cover the difference.

Frustrated by this difference, other races have seen fans create crowdfunding campaigns, like this spring’s women’s edition of Strade Bianche, where fans invested money to increase the winners’ checks for the race. female in Italy.

For some, the issue of prize money is full of nuances and basic savings. If a race brings in a lot of money, the argument goes, organizers can afford to raise the stakes. Women’s racing, many are quick to point out, is just not the cash cow that top men’s racing can be.

For others, it is a simple equation of a reflection of values.

Some sports have aggressively evolved to bring the price level between men’s and women’s courts, more dramatically in professional tennis, with its four Grand Slam tournaments offering equal prize money. Some bike races have done the same, most notably the Tour Down Under in Australia and the UCI World Championships, which also offer equal purses.

The now defunct Amgen Tour of California has also pledged to pay out equal prices before embarking on what appears to be a permanent ‘break’ in 2019.

The fairness debate does not end with cash prizes.

Last month, the question of a U23 category for the women’s peloton and equal distances for the time trials – which is expected to be the case in 2022 at the Australian World Championships – both became major talking points. during the 2021 world championships. Many races also eliminated the girls from the podium at the finish line.

As much as many praise ASO for creating the Tour de France Women, a few voices have also suggested that it is unfair that the women’s race is only one week long instead of the full three weeks of the men’s grand tour distance.

Tadej Pogacar won 500,000 euros as the winner of the Tour de France 2021. (Chris Graythen / Getty Images)

No easy answers in the race to cash prize fairness

What will ASO do in the Tour de France Women?

Last summer, Tadej Pogacar won 500,000 euros as the winner of the Tour 2021, out of a total purse of 2,269,450 € over the entire race.

It’s hard to imagine that ASO has the financial means to offer a similar prize pool for the first edition of the Tour de France Women.

Details of the cash prize on the Tour de France Women were not available on Thursday, but sources said VeloNews that the stock market will be large, most likely in the sense of a similar eight-day men’s race at WorldTour level.

If so, the overall purse could be around 100,000 euros, with the winner receiving around 15,000 euros, stage winners receiving around 4,000 euros. If it were in that sense, it would immediately make the Tour de France Women the most lucrative race on the women’s circuit.

There are no easy answers in what is the economic Wild West of professional cycling.

The UCI sets minimum guidelines for wages and cash prizes for both men’s and women’s races, but when it comes to hard cash, it’s up to the teams to find sponsors to cover all the costs. expenses of managing a team, and race organizers to cover the costs of organizing a race and setting up scholarships.

What are the possible solutions ? Men might give up some of their cash prizes, with which top earners who don’t rely on cash prizes as their primary source of income might be okay with, but a move teams and staff could do. hesitate.

ASO could take part of its own profits or shift its operating budget from other races, and offer it to the women’s peloton.

Another idea would be to divide the total of the prizes between the two races, and thus reduce the men’s purse to create equal purses for the men and women editions.

Not everyone agrees that prize money is the most pressing criterion for measuring equality.

Many insist that visibility via live television broadcasts of all the major races pays more dividends to the peloton and sponsors in the long run. At the recent Paris-Roubaix Femmes, for example, only the last two hours of the race were shown, meaning that key opening sectors were not available to fans.

Right now, many organizers and sponsors who invest heavily in women’s running are rolling out what can be called the ‘build it and they will come’ model, and hope that once the sport is more established in the world. higher level, more funders will step up, TV rights will rise in value and cash prizes may expand with the future of sport.

In fact, some say that by insisting on equal prices or raising minimum wages too early, it could hurt the development of women’s cycling by cutting resources from other aspects of the sport, or even force some teams or events to close. shop.

These arguments can be hard to hear, especially when the salaries of top female stars are only a fraction of what top male stars receive, and even more so when many women receive minimum wage or less.

Some say insisting on anything less than absolute equality will only demean women’s cycling. Others believe that hard rules can sometimes backfire and produce the opposite of the desired effect.

If there’s one that almost everyone agrees on, it’s that a women’s stage race supported by ASO is good for the peloton.

What is certain, equality of earnings would count a lot more for a runner earning € 40,000 per year than for a runner earning € 4 million per year.

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