Professional cycling team Arkéa-Samsic is launching a women's team in 2020.
The French team intend to compete at the highest level in France, moving towards the ultimate goal of a place in the World Tour.
Ronan Le Moal who is the Arkéa group’s general manager told Direct Velo that women's cycling is the "future of the sport" and that it has been their goal since they started sponsoring the squad in 2014 to set up a women's team.
Le Moal says that when he heard the team was ready to establish their women's squad he didn't hesitate to support the endeavour.
He says their ambitions extend beyond the cyclists they will be supporting: "We want to help women’s cycling to be more visible. In the coming years, it must be easier for women to access a salary that allows them to live off their sport.”
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Currently, the team won't receive full salaries but Le Moal hopes to see this change: “It is obvious to say that we do not have the money for our athletes to live on.” He adds: “That said, there is no reason that it does not happen in the future. Our goal is to be among those who will, modestly, reverse this situation.
It might be a slow process, however, as Le Moal says it could take five to ten years before “women’s cycling will be as recognised as today’s men’s cycling”.
The cyclists joining the team are Pauline Allin (France), Léa Curinier (France), Amandine Fouquenet (France), Lucie Jounier (France), Typhaine Laurance (France), Sandra Levenez (France), Anais Morichon (France), Coralie Houdin (France), Gladys Verhulst (France), Fatima Zarha El Hayani (Maroc).
The team will be headed up by Gabrielle Rimasson and Franck Renimel.
The news follows a successful season for Arkéa-Samsic men's team leader Warren Barguil who became the French national road race champion and finished tenth in the Tour de France.
It also comes at a time where more attention is being drawn to the lack of gender equality in the sport. There is no Tour de France for women, for example, and while the average UCI men’s WorldTour team has a budget of roughly $16 million, statistics show that the average women’s team budget is a mere $200,000.
Le Moal says he believes that equality can be reached: “I draw parallels with football. We need spotlights like the World Cup and filmed matches to realise that women’s football has its place among the general public. For women’s cycling, it’s the same. it requires means and actors who invest.”News Now - Sport News