Noemi Cantele: “There are no equal opportunities in cycling”
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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Noemi Cantele: “There are no equal opportunities in cycling”

by Ben Atkins at 6:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Italian champion slams gender inequality in the sport

noemi canteleNoemi Cantele (Garmin-Cervélo) is an ambassador for Italian cycling, and a member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) ethics committee. As the reigning Italian road and time trial champion, and a double Worlds medallist from Mendrisio, Switzerland, in 2009, the 30-year-old is one of the highest profile riders in her country. As the road captain of the Italian national women’s team, Cantele has been instrumental in the squadra azzura’s four World championship victories in the past five years.

For Cantele there were three big results in the 2011 season: “My two tricolore jerseys, road and time trial,” she explained in an interview with la Gazzetta dello Sport, “and Giorgia Bronzini’s rainbow jersey; that is not only hers, but belongs to all of the squadra azzura, so a little bit of it is ‘me’.

"I feel lucky,” she continued. “I have the privilege of being able to aspire to achieve great goals. It is not for everyone, it's not for everyone; and there’s not a great difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. It’s not just a matter of talent or effort, but also opportunities. Knowing how to take those opportunities is also a merit."

Although Cantele has spent most of her career at some of the best funded teams in the women’s sport (bigla 2005-2009, HTC-Columbia 2010, and currently Garmin-Cervélo), the Italian champion is only too aware of the vast gulf of inequality that exists between the genders in elite cycling.

"There are no equal opportunities between men and women,” she said, “it doesn’t even exist among the women. Our movement gives more than it receives. I’m talking about structures, spaces, especially in newspapers or on TV, and I also speak of money.

noemi cantele“The differences are abysmal," Cantele continued. "The minimum wage for a man is equivalent to one of the highest salaries of a woman. And the tables of prizes for the races are ridiculous: the relationship between a man and woman is twenty to one. But in tennis it’s almost identical."

For example, Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-SunGard) received €20,000 for winning this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen, while Annemiek van Vleuten (Nederland Bloeit) was awarded just €1,100 for her victory in the women’s version. Although Cantele rides for a sister team to the Garmin-Cervélo ProTeam, which races at the top echelon of the men’s sport, there are no funds available for the women to join the men for the team’s Presentation Gala in Boulder, Colorado, later this month.

Despite the massive gender inequality though, for Cantele there was never any question of her choosing to pursue a career on two wheels.

“As a child cycling for me was a dream, then it became a hobby, today it’s a profession," she explained. "Passion and Profession. When I realised that there was a talent, I believed, and every day I lived and struggled in pursuit of my objectives and targets.”

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