“Athletes are athletes. Gender, race, size, shape, and ability do not determine a person’s value. Desire, ambition, goals, dreams, and heart are not defined by looks. Every person should have equal opportunity to fulfill their potential, and should be equally rewarded for doing so. Trek is proud to host the first World Cup in cycling’s history to offer equal payouts to the men’s and women’s fields.” –Trek’s press release ahead of the 2017 Cyclocross World Cup

Trek Bicycle Corporation made history in the sport of cyclocross at the 2017 Cyclocross World Cup by offering equal prize money to both the male and female finishers for the first time ever in the sport.

Cyclocross began in the early 21st century in France, but has grown in popularity throughout Europe and America since the mid-1990’s. The sport consists of short off-road bike races over various types of terrain and includes obstacles such as man-made barriers, staircases, and ramps. These courses often require riders to dismount and carry their bikes, or “bunny-hop” while on their bikes, in order to avoid some of these obstacles. Unlike road cycling, the cyclocross season runs from September to February and is considered a winter sport.

Women in cyclocross have faced a variety of difficulties that come with being a female rider. While the women struggle to get the same recognition and respect for the abilities on the bike, the most significant discrepancy between male and female riders, up until this point, has been the pay gap. In the past, women have taken home less than half of the paycheck that their fellow male competitors have. In fact, the sport’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale, currently requires World Cup sponsors to provide male first place winners with a prize of 5,000 euros, but provide female first place winners with only 2,000 euros.

Earlier this year, Trek decided that it was time for a change and announced their decision to pay both winners equally. “We were not going to go downstairs and tell our female coworkers that we were organizing a race with a pay discrepancy. We have a lot of female decisions makers here, and we have daughters, and we want to be on the right side of history . . . There’s nothing revolutionary about common sense,” explained Trek’s Brand Manager, Eric Bjorling.

And boy did these women earn their reward! This year’s Cyclocross World Cup took place in 90 degree weather and on a very technical course. Belgium’s Sanne Cant battled the unseasonably warm weather to win the first major cyclocross race of the season, while Americans Kaitlin Keough and Ellen Noble finished in second and third place, respectively. Fourth place finisher, Sophie de Boer, from The Netherlands, took to Twitter after the race to praise Trek’s commitment to equality in the sport:

The quest for equality between male and female professional athletes has been an ongoing battle. Although women consistently sacrifice their time and bodies in order to succeed in their sport, they often do not receive the same compensation and sponsorship as male competitors. By offering equal prizes at this year’s cyclocross World Cup, Trek has made a small, yet significant, step towards leveling the playing field for male and female athletes across sports. We salute Trek’s trailblazing and look forward to more history in the making from the world of cyclocross.


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posted on 10/28/2017 by Fallon Oeser
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