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Cycling catching up in gender equality thanks to South Australia

Tourism

The South Australian government has decided to retrospectively pay the winners of the Women’s Santos Tour Down Under the same as the men this year and for years to come.

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When the 102 female riders lined up last week for the 2018 Santos Women’s Tour Down Under they were competing for a AUD$15,000 pool of prize money in the newly classified UCI 2.1 event. The overall winners of the general classifications and each of the stages will now be paid on par with the men from a prize pool of AUD$105,000.

South Australian Minister of Sport Leon Bignell announced at the annual Santos Tour Down Under Legend’s Dinner that he had reached an agreement with the Union Cyclist Internationale to top up the women’s winnings and pay them equally in future races.

“I wrote to UCI President in November last year and we finished the discussions today and agreed the Santos Women’s Tour Down Under was the perfect event to lead the way for equal prize money,” said Bignell.

“These athletes are at the top of their game, displaying professionalism, determination and skill during every stage of the hard-fought race.

“It’s only fair the prize money they receive is on par with their male counterparts for each stage as well as the general classification.”

Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Amanda Spratt, the winner of the 2018 Women’s Tour Down Under, said it was great news that the South Australian government is closing the gender gap in cycling.

“Equal prize money for the men and women is a huge step forward for equality and I feel really proud that it’s an Australian race doing this,” said Spratt, who defended her 2017 TDU win against a peloton filled with world champions in 2018.

“The Santos Women’s Tour Down under is only three years old but is quickly becoming one of the most professional races we do in the year, the news of the equal prize money just solidifies this.”

Last year South Australia made headlines across the world when it did away with antiquated podium girls and replaced them with junior cycling champions at the 2017 Tour Down Under.

One of the 2017 podium presenters, Maeve Plouffe, went on to compete in this year’s Women’s tour, placing fifth in the young rider’s classification and 32nd overall.

Union Cyclist Internationale President David Lappartient praised South Australia’s leadership in pushing for equality in women’s sport at all levels.

“The UCI has indeed introduced equal prize money for men and women across all UCI World Championships and World Cups, and it is fantastic to South Australia once again take the lead, elevating women in sport through offering equal prize money for male and female competitors in the Santos Tour Down Under,” Lappartient said.

“I am confident equal prize money will support a significant transformation for women in cycling.”

Prize money for the race is regulated by the Union Cyclist Internationale, with male riders currently receiving €4000 for a stage win, €12,000 for the General Classification as well as prize money for Sprints, King of the Mountain and Young Rider.

The extra $90,000 will be used to retrospectively pay the GC winners, stage winners and the individual Sprints, Queen of the Mountain and Young Rider winners.

Santos Women’s Tour Down Under Race Director Kimberley Conte said the support of the South Australian government would mean the race would attract even better riders in coming years.

“We have women coming from all over her the world for the Women’s Tour Down Under. Having equal prize money will result in even more interest from top international female riders and help take this race to the next level,” she said.

The South Australian government has pledged to raise the profile of women’s sports, committing to upgrade sporting facilities and attract more world championships to the state.

The 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open will be played at Kooyonga Golf Club in the South Australian capital from February 15-18.

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