Women’s Cycling News Round-Up 08-15.09.2014

Coldwell 20th at Tour de l’Ardèche — Estado de Mexico-Faren-Kuota technical director accused — What’s happening at Wiggle-Honda? — Transfer News — Shorts and Interesting Links — More to come…

 

Lucy Coldwell 20th at Tour de l’Ardèche

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Lucy Coldwell (image credit: Lucy Coldwell)

Glasgow’s Lucy Coldwell took 20th place overall at the Tour de l’Ardèche, in doing so taking a big step towards her ambition to one day ride for a UCI Women’s team.

Lucy was 76th in the first stage, recording the same time as winner Giorgia Bronzini of the British-registered team Wiggle Honda. She was then eighth in Stage 2, an individual time trial, finishing 33″ behind winner Linda Villumsen, also of Wiggle-Honda; she climbed from 76th to eighth in the General Classification as a result – by doing so adding weight to the widespread criticism of British Cycling’s decision not to send any riders to compete in the women’s time trial at the World Championships later this month, as announced last week. In Stage 3 she was 44th, once again matching the winner Loren Rowney (Australia NT) for time and improving her overall placing to seventh; however, when the bunch was split in Stage 4 her 27th place result, 1’59” behind stage winner Bronzini, saw her drop to 17th overall with a deficit of +2’32”.

Stage 5 split the peloton into even more widely-dispersed groups with Lucy finishing in 20th, 9’30” behind winner Alena Amialiusik of Astana-BePink, which placed her at +12’02 in the General Classification – however, with other riders losing more time, her overall placing improved to 16th and would retain that position after Stage 6 when she finished 37th at +02″ to stage winner Bronzini. The seventh and final stage split the bunch again with a small group getting off the front, before it too fractured into several subgroups – Lucy finished 47th in the third group, 3’45” down on stage winner Kathrin Hammes, and thus slipped into 20th overall at +14’59”.

 

Accusations of abuse and failure to pay salaries at Estado de Mexico-Faren-Kuota

A report published by Mexican cycling website La Bicicleta states that 2008 National Road and ITT Champion Alessandra Giuseppina Grassi has made a written complaint to “different authorities” complaining of “misogynistic attitudes,” witheld pay and abuse from managers at her Estada de Mexico-Faren-Kuota team.

Estado de Mexico is funded differently to the majority of teams, receiving some of its budget from the Mexican Government much as Euskaltel-Euskadi was partly funded by the Government of the Basque Country. This backing was agreed because of the team’s aim to support and develop Mexican cyclists. Grassi says that since the recruitment of Italian technical director Walter Ricci Peititoni, the Mexican riders on the team have had little support and, worse still, have been subjected to a range of abuse.

Grassi makes a number of accusations, summed up below. They can be read in full here.

Ricci became abusive towards Mexican riders on the team from their arrival in Europe, says Grassi, insulting and humiliating them by telling them that they were “worth less than zero” and were “anything but cyclists.”

Dulce Pliego Moreno and Ruth Alfie Moctezuma became ill on two occasions, but arrangements for them to visit a doctor were not made.

Whilst at the team’s training base in Italy, riders were not supplied with tools, tyres or lubricants and were expected to pay for the services of a mechanic out of their own pockets.

Money given to the riders to purchase food was insufficient. Supply of food during competitions was limited because Ricci said that the Mexican riders were fat; he did not do the same with the other riders.

Ricci did not follow the riders during training, nor arrange a coach as he has initially promised.

When the riders returned to Mexico, Ricci took Moctezuma’s bike from her but did not give a proper explanation as to why, saying only that “she used to be a better rider and should engage in otherwise” [literally, “find a new job”]. Both Grassi and her father Giuseppe, who won a World Track Championship title in 1968, had warned when Moctezuma was signed to the team that she had not yet got enough experience to compete on road at that level. Ricci also threatened to take Erika Yepez’ bike when he became angry with her and, when Piego Moreno asked for expenses, threatened to remove her from the team.

Ricci had, prior to May, received three payments totalling €65,000 (two of €20,000; one of €25,000). His handling of the money was, Grassi suggests, suspicious – he kept it in a rucksack which he carried at all times and she says receipts were not issued.

Following two later payments of €400,000 and “two million” (currency not stated), Grassi says she asked Ricci to start paying riders’ salaries properly, rather than from his own salary, which she says is the only way in which she has been paid in the ten months since she signed her contract. Ricci, she says, became angry about this and said he would only pay them “a month.” The European riders on the team have, Grassi says, been paid.

Grassi was told when the team started up that Ricci had secured sponsorship; he later claimed that “he had nothing and had to pay debts to the bank.”

In May, Ricci announced that the team would expand, with a new squad for Mexican youth riders. He then conducted meetings with 16-year-old Jimena Gonzalez Veracruz and her parents, promising to supply her with a bike, clothing, shoes, helmet and airfare to Italy. However, when Jimena arrived in Italy the youth team had not been informed that she was coming. She was not supplied with the promised kit, being given instead “old clothes.” When Jimena approached Ricci, he became abusive and threatened her.

Jimena’s parents were so concerned about their daughter’s welfare that they contacted the Mexican consulate in Italy, which in turn contacted Ricci. He claimed that Grassi, who had acted as translator, had lied to Jimena’s parents about the promised kit. He was abusive towards Jimena, telling her she was “worthless.”

Fortunately Grassi, at 36 years of age, is in a position to speak up; many younger riders would be afraid of being labelled as trouble-makers and, worried that this would affect their future careers, would not feel able to do so. There are numerous reasons why a team might not pay its riders’ salaries, but cycling fans old enough to remember the late 1980s will be reminded of Tony Capper’s ANC-Halfords – at which several riders did not receive payments or kit when it turned out that funds claimed to have been secured did not in fact exist. Measures were later taken by the UCI to prevent a similar situation in the future; if Grassi’s accusations are true – and there seems little reason to suspect that they are not, considering her willingness to involve authorities – it becomes apparent that similar changes are still needed in women’s cycling. The accusations of abuse and racism are even more serious; the UCI is likely to face very reasonable demands that it carries out a full investigation.

 

What’s happening at Wiggle-Honda?

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Linda Villumsen is the latest high-profile rider to announce her departure from Wiggle-Honda, raising questions over the team’s future (image credit: James Boyes CC BY 2.0)

Last week, Laura Trott announced that she was leaving Wiggle-Honda to go to Matrix-Vulpine. Now, the team has lost two more high-profile riders in Linda Villumsen and Jo Rowsell, who are going to United Healthcare and Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International.

Earlier this month, the Charity Commission began an investigation into a complaint made against Bradley Wiggins’ Wiggo Foundation, which partly funds the team – this is one issue raised by the complaint, which argues that a UCI Women’s cycling team is not a charitable cause. This, combined with the news that three big-name riders are leaving, has led to rumours that the team’s future is not secure.

However, owner and manager Rochelle Gilmore insisted when asked by Cycling Weekly that the team “absolutely” would continue. Gilmore declined to answer questions about Elinor Barker, Amy Roberts and Dani King,the three other British members, which is standard practice early on in transfer season and cannot be seen as evidence of uncertainty, but added that further announcements will be made following the World Championships.

On Thursday, the team’s main sponsor Wiggle posted the following Tweet:

“WOW, I’ve just been shown the @WiggleHonda Pro Cycling team roster for 2015.
Who do you think we’ve signed? #cycling”

 

Transfer News

Linda Villumsen and Jo Rowsell are leaving Wiggle-Honda for United Healthcare and Pearl Izumi-Sports Tours International (see previous story, above).

Chantal Blaak, who rode for Specialized-Lululemon in 2014, will move to Boels-Dolmans for 2015. Melanie Woering is leaving RC Jan van Arckel for Team Rytger.

Futurumshop.nl-Zannata, which will become Lensworld-Zannata in 2015, has confirmed extended contracts for Mieke Kroger, Sofie de Vuyst, Evy Kuijpers and Annelies Dom.

For the latest women’s transfer news, see Cycling Fever.

 

Shorts and Interesting Links

Emma Pooley wins world duathlon title at first attempt (BBC)

 

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