Giorgia Bronzini Interview: “We want the same professional contract as the men”
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giorgia Bronzini Interview: “We want the same professional contract as the men”

by Ben Atkins at 2:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Track, World Championships
 
Women’s World champion speaks to VeloNation about the inequality in the sport and the unity of the Italian team

giorgia bronziniWomen’s world champion Giorgia Bronzini spoke out recently in an interview with la Gazzetta dello Sport, where she complained of the lack of sexual equality in cycling. Bronzini’s comments echoed those of Italian champion Noemi Cantele, and actually went as far as to say that she would not recommend the sport to young women unless they were either prepared to go into the military, which could support them throughout their career, or to choose a second option: “prepare to go hungry.”

While the International Cycling Union (UCI) seeks to spread the word of cycling to as-yet unexploited parts of the World – in Asia and Africa – many in the sport’s heartland feel that more than half the population is being ignored by its governing body. VeloNation recently spoke to Bronzini, who confirmed that her and Cantele’s comments were part of a growing movement in the women’s sport, which seeks to achieve some parity with the men’s.

“Me and Noemi will try to ask to speak with the UCI so we can have the same professional contract for the women as the professional men have,” the world champion said.

Much of Bronzini’s comment was aimed towards the sport in her home country of Italy, where cycling is one of the three biggest sports [along with football (soccer) and motorsport – ed]. Where the Italian elite men’s team has enjoyed sporadic success in the last decade, with Mario Cipollini (2002), Paolo Bettini (2006 & 2007) and Alessandro Ballan (2008), the women have taken four titles in the last five years; picking up a number of other medals on the way.

Marta Bastianelli broke clear of the favourites in 2007 to take a solo victory, while Bronzini herself sprinted to the bronze medal behind her; in 2009 Tatiana Guderzo took a similar solo victory, with Cantele the one to take bronze behind her, while Bronzini sprinted to victory in both 2010 and 2011. Cantele also picked up a silver medal in the time trial in 2009, giving the Italian women a far superior record than the men in recent years.

Despite a lack of investment in their trade teams, the Italian women display an incredible unity and dedication to the maglia azzurra.

“Our best quality is that we are united for the one objective: to win the Worlds,” Bronzini explained, “because it isn’t important who won, but it must be won by one of us.”

Bronzini was superbly led out in Copenhagen by former two-time Italian champion Monia Baccaille; as a sprinter herself Baccaille could have easily tried to take the title and ignored Bronzini behind her, but the reason that she didn’t is simple.

“I think that if Baccaille did her sprint in my opinion we wouldn’t have won the Worlds and us we wouldn’t have been a really good team,” said the World champion.

Bronzini’s two World road titles were not the first rainbow jerseys of her career, with the 28-year-old having taken the World points race title on the track in Pruszków, Poland, in 2009. The Piacentina will be aiming to take back that title in Melbourne, Australia, in April, which means that she will miss the first three rounds of the road World Cup: the Ronde van Drenthe, the Trofeo Alfredo Binda and the Ronde van Vlaanderen.

giorgia bronziniWhile the race does not suit the sprinting prowess of Bronzini, it will surely be a shame not to see the rainbow jersey on display in her home nation’s World Cup race; for Bronzini though, the chance of the World title is a bigger draw.

“I think that it’s more important try to win another jersey than ride that race,” she said. “I’m not angry; in this Olympic season I have only three important races and the others are only training for arriving there in my best form.”

The choice to race on the track is not, as some might think, something Bronzini feels pressured into doing because of the slim pickings on offer in women’s cycling.

“I would do it anyway because I think track is very important for a sprinter on the road,” she explained.

One of the options for athletes who would like to live as professionals in Europe is to join their nations military or police forces. This is something that Bronzini has chosen to do, which she hopes will also see her into her working life after her retirement from cycling.

“I’m in the military and I have only a few races with my Corpo Forestale Dello Stato,” she explained, “but they are more indispensable for my life because I will have work for the other years of my life.”

One of the most prominent races where Bronzini can be seen in the green and white Forestale jersey is the Italian championships; riders such as Bastianelli and Guderzo ride in the colours of Fiamme Azzurre – the blue flames – which is the sports team of the Italian prison service.

Another rainbow jersey for Bronzini also sees her change teams once more, returning to the team where she has spent most of her career, now known as Diadora-Pasta Zara. With most of the American side of the team, including former Giro d’Italia winner Mara Abbott leaving the team, the World champion gets to choose some of her own teammates.

“I choose this team cause overall for me now is the best one in Italy,” she explained. “I bring up two girls from the last team.”

In fact there are three riders following the World champion from Colavita-Forno d’Asolo – which continues despite the withdrawal of the US olive oil company – in the shape of fellow Forestale Alessandra D’Ettorre, emerging rider Giada Borgata, and Lithuanian Edita Janeliunaite.

Despite the withdrawal of Geox as a sponsor of the men’s Geox-TMC team, Bronzini says that she was not concerned over the future of her own new team, even though Diadora is a subsidiary of the Geox shoe company.

“No,” she said, “because the staff and the some of the sponsors of women’s team are different to the men’s.”

Bronzini’s two rainbow jerseys – as well as those of Bastianelli and Guderzo – were won at the expense of women’s cycling’s outstanding rider Marianne Vos, with the Dutchwoman taking an incredible five consecutive silver medals since her solitary victory in 2006. To take the Olympic title in London next year, Bronzini will have to best Vos once more, in what will likely be another bunch sprint.

Doubtless the Italian team is already making its plans for the Olympic race, but what those are will only be seen on the day.

“It will be a secret,” Bronzini smiled.

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