This year, we dove into covering the spring classics with Mathias Delwaelsche’s previews and recaps of many of the big races.

In each preview where there was a Women and Men’s race, it was easy to spot the disparity in both distance and number of years the respective races have been held.

Another difference we noted was the winner and total payouts for the women and men’s fields.

After the Ronde van Vlaanderen, a Dutch commenter generated some discussion on Twitter by noting the difference in payouts between Women’s winner Marta Bastianelli and Men’s winner Alberto Bettiol.

A full breakdown of the payouts shows that the €1,265 for Bastianelli’s win would have put her seventh on the men’s pay scale.

Minimum race payouts for each discipline are dictated by UCI requirements.

This year’s UCI requirements for the respective sexes show that for races with the same classification, the Women’s winner typically takes home about 8% of the Men’s winner and the total Women’s Payouts are about 15% of the Men’s.

2019 UCI Road Payout Requirements - Women and Men

Race ClassificationWomen WinnerMen WinnerWomen TotalMen Total
1.1420 €5,785 €2,695 €14,520 €
WT1,265 €16,000 € / 20,000 €5,765 €40,000 € / 50,000 €

A look at payouts by the eight races we covered this year shows that for the five that had both a Women’s and Men’s race, the Women’s winner took home, on average, 7% of the Men’s winner and the Women’s total payout was 13% of the Men’s.

Also, all eight of the races had the WorldTour designation for the men, while only three of the five were Women’s WorldTour races, which also had an impact on the differences in payouts.

2019 Spring Classics Payouts - Women and Men

RaceW. ClassM. ClassWomen WinnerMen WinnerWomen TotalMen Total
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad1.1UWT420 €16,000 €2,695 € 40,000 €
Strade BiancheWWTUWT2,256 €16,000 €10,260 €40,000 €
Milan – San Remo----UWT----20,000 €----50,000 €
E3 Harelbeke----UWT----16,000 €----40,000 €
Gent – WevelgemWWTUWT1,265 €16,000 €5,765 €40,000 €
Dwars door Vlaanderen1.1UWT379 €16,000 €2,353 €40,000 €
Ronde van VlaanderenWWTUWT1,265 €20,000 €5,765 €50,000 €
Paris – Roubaix----UWT----30,000 €----91,000 €

Earlier in the road season, Cycling News wrote a story about payouts at Strade Bianche featuring interviews with the race director and Dutch rider Anna van der Breggen. It is worth noting that of all the races above, Strade Bianche offered the highest payouts to women.

Race director Mauro Vegni presented an argument that was repeatedly echoed in the comments of that article.

“It’ll be right to have equal prize money when women’s racing generates an equal level of income, when it has the same commercial value, the same television rights. Women’s cycling has grown since the time when I organised the Primavera Rosa (a women’s version of Milan-San Remo) but unfortunately the women’s sport is much smaller than the already small men’s sport,” he argued.

The comment section of that story (yes, we read it), highlights some of the arguments folks have for why payouts between the Women and Men’s races are different. We are not going to try to put together a representative sample, but you can jump over there to read them.

Cyclocross, as a Comparison

Given changes with respect to pay equality in cyclocross, it was hard not to note the differences in payouts to women and men during our coverage of the classics this spring.

Pay equality between the genders has been a topic in cyclocross for the last decade-plus, as the Women’s sport has grown and now, according to television viewership, rivals the Men’s racing in interest.

Equal payouts have long been a mainstay at U.S. UCI cyclocross races, long before required by rule. The move toward equality on the international level has happened in progressive steps.

Pay equality first came to European cyclocross at the Koppenbergcross in 2014 thanks to Kris Auer’s work. Then Trek made news in 2017 when it offered equal payouts at World Cup Waterloo, and the UCI also mandated equal pay for C1 and C2 races at the start of the 2017/2018 season.

Last year, the UCI took another big step by mandating all World Cup payouts be equal starting with the 2021/22 season.

The UCI-mandated payout structure for the 2019/20 season shows that one of the remaining differences between the sexes is the total payouts for individual World Cup races.

Payouts for the overall series are now equal, with €30,000 going to winners and the total purses adding up to €155,000.

2019/20 UCI Cyclocross Payout Requirements - Women and Men

CategoryWomen WinnerMen WinnerWomen TotalMen Total
World Cup5,000 €5,000 €20,100 €39,500 €
C11,400 €1,400 €5,000 €5,000 €
C2350 €350 €1,525 €1,525 €

The pay equality of cyclocross is also shared by mountain bike racing at both the regular UCI race and World Cup level, as can be seen in the UCI financial obligations document.

If the Cycling News article is any guide, some readers of this post will likely argue that by posting this comparison, we have an agenda. And maybe we do!

At the same time, the numbers are the numbers, and it is hard not to miss the difference between disciplines, especially with the progress toward equality that has been made in cyclocross and mountain biking.

Featured image: Deghan Perker