Women's Sport: Marianne Vos says she is "lucky" to have avoided sexual abuse in cycling

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Marianne Vos is nicknamed The Cannibal for a reason.

The 32-year-old’s performances on the bike last year were the culmination of dedicated work to get back to peak form following an injury in 2015.

The three-time world champion had a huge 2019 with 22 victories overall alongside wins in La Course and four stages of the Giro d’Italia.

"When it turned out well, everything came together - four stage wins in the Giro and maybe the most memorable might be La Course - but, looking back on the whole season, it has been very, very, very satisfying."

Vos also spoke out on the environment within the sport that has allowed sexual abuse of riders at every level to go un-reported.

Rouleur’s report detailed the stories of abuse women in cycling had experienced under the guise of medical treatment. The revelations drew clear parallels with the abuse young female gymnasts experienced at USA Gymnastics.

One story in the Rouleur’s report came from a young cyclist named “Rosa” who told the story of the abuse she had been the victim of at the hands of a team masseuse as a young rider.

Vos told Cycling News that the abuse exposed by Rouleur’s report was not acceptable, although she says she was “lucky” to have never had any personal experience of abuse.

"I don't have a feeling that it has been a problem for everybody, all the time, all over, but, as it hasn't been the most professional environment for everybody, I think there have been issues, and of course not only at the highest levels.

"It shouldn't be the case in any of the levels - not for the young riders, not for club riders, not for elite riders - but you always have these people around who use their position in the wrong way. Hopefully speaking about it will help.

"I haven't really had those bad experiences so I can't really speak about it myself. I've been in very good, supportive teams but I started in a small team.”

The UCI, cycling’s world governing body announced that the 2020 season would see women receive a minimum wage for the first time.

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President of the UCI David Lappartient announced the move but did not reveal how much exactly women could expect to earn. Lappartient also warned that not all women riding for a UCI team would be entitled to a minimum salary, only those signed to higher-tier teams.

Vos believes this is an important step for women’s cycling and a sign of the growth happening in the sport as a whole, but she is aware that change must be steady to be effective.

"[Cycling] has grown, it's evolving and I think some parts are definitely growing really fast and some parts are not really keeping on track.

"It all needs to grow steadily - not slowly, but step-by-step. I think it's heading in the right direction. Probably in the more traditional cycling countries, it's harder to grow and I see, like in Australia, but also Great Britain, the Anglo-Saxon countries, are much further ahead than the traditional cycling countries."

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