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Amgen EPO Tour of California Womens TT Rumor, or Equality In Cycling

Posted by bikezilla on April 8, 2011


THE SHORT:

Amgen EPO Tour of California proposes (or at least that’s the rumor) to base payouts of the Women’s TT, to be held with the mens TT after Stage 6 of this year’s race, on how many men the women can beat.

THE LONG (Like ADHD warning, long):

Here are links to three other articles on it:

Jen See, aka Gavia, at Podium Cafe

Joshua Hunt, aka Autofact, at The Elements of Guile

Gerrard Vrooman, aka Gerrard Vroomen, at Cervelo.com

To me, this would seem a feminist’s dream: racing against men, going head to head vs some of the best (male) time trialists in the world, being paid not merely as women racers but purely as racers who happen to be on the womens team.

But no.

That isn’t the type of equality anyone is striving for.

Why? Because it isn’t a realistic measure.

Physically, men and women are not equal. Things are not “even up”.

That’s especially true at the elite level of sports.

I can’t remember exactly whether it was last year or the year before, nor in which race, but there was a TT in which the women performed at such a high level that they embarrassed a large portion of the men.

It was a big deal.

And in 2009 at the Liberty Classic, the womens field lapped the mens field.

Afterward, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, who won, hunted down the last place male finisher, tore his leg off and beat him to death with it.

She then ate the leg, belched loudly and tongue kissed the the podium boy, who wet himself in fear.

True story.

Anyway, the feel of this proposition by AToC is that they’re saying, “Really? You think you can really best the men? You think you’re hot shit? Fine, bitches, earn your pay vs the men.”

Like it’s done purely out of spitefulness, as payback for women occasionally outshining the men, more to do with misogyny than out of respect for anyone, men or women.

— Battle of the Sexes

If AToC really insists on a Battle of the Sexes, then the burden of winning and payout should be on the men, not on the women.

Say any man who does not finish a minimum of 35% (or whatever) faster than the best woman, gets zip, with the top 1 -10 or 1 – 20 women splitting the prize money for each place equally with the to 1 – 10 or 20 men. If enough men don’t finish with a time 35% faster, then the women in those finishing spots get the full money (which could actually have them winning more than higher placed men and women, but that’s the luck of the draw).

Or let AToC organizers with their woody for this notion, begin a race, or even a series of races, aimed at presenting a Battle of the Sexes, but outside of the AToC race.

Then it could be that from Go and participants would be signing up knowing that this is what they’re in for.

The men could ride with an X second penalty, or the women with a X second bonus.

— But I’d really love to see (and I know that some of you are sick of hearing it) the best elite women supplant the least of the elite men.

Maybe it couldn’t be an every race thing, but it could be on and off throughout the season. Some races with the women, some with the men.

And I bet that the women who did this would almost immediately begin the dominate their female competition at an even higher level. Because, in general, women train and race shorter distances and fewer stages. But that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of the longer distances, only that they don’t currently do them.

I just pestered Jen See about this, because it fit with (or rather went against) some of the things she said in the above liked article.

Her opinion is similar to others I’ve heard over the past couple years.

“. . . that’s pretty much the opposite of what I’d want to see, honestly. Because then you have the top women – compared to other women – in supporting roles in the men’s world.

That’s maybe bad? Or, at least, not very fulfilling as a woman athlete. That’s why we have separate competitions – men and women are phsycially difficult enough that we can’t really compare them. It’s apples to orange, see.

So, me, I want to see the best women racing the best women, not the best women buried in the men’s field.”

I can understand that. It makes a lot of sense.

But what if there are some top elite women who feel THAT way, but others who’d like a shot at riding with and against the men? Shouldn’t they have that opportunity?

If you take the watts produced per kilogram w/kg of the best women and compare that to the elite men, you’ll see that the women do very well in this matchup.

I think that tells us that it isn’t always a case of apples and oranges, but that, in certain cases, there’s cross over, or at least the potential for crossover.

And I think that should be explored and encouraged.

Susan Ljunskog, double World Champion, raced vs the men in the 2004 edition of the Scandinavian Open. She placed 57th, which I’d say puts her well above the bottom of the pack.

I don’t know the exact distance of that year’s race, but looking at what I can find, it averages between 187km and 221 km. Not typical womens distances.

— Largely, when we talk about equality in mens and womens cycling, we’re talking about respect. We’re talking about more of the organizers for the biggest mens races also promoting a womens edition. We’re talking about raising the levels of sponsorship and of prize money, of equipment availability, of support staff, of lodging on the road, from the insulting disparity we see now to something more on par with what the men enjoy.

We’re NOT talking about “Ok, you want equality, you race against the men and you have to perform better than the men if you want any money at all, but even then we’re only gonna pay you a tiny fraction of what we pay the men.”

That’s not equality. That’s not even reasonable and it seems intended to be insulting and degrading.

Womens cycling, and women in cycling, are disrespected in enough ways already. They deserve better than this from the organizers of the biggest race in North America.

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