The French Cycling Federation has defended its decision to fly the women’s team to the World Championships in Australia via economy, while its men’s side travelled in business class.
While the Federation has been met with accusations of sexism and favouritism from the French public, the organisation has stressed that the decision was based on financial reasons and the men’s superior chances of victory at the Championships.
What have the French Cycling Federation said?
Christoph Manin, the national technical director of French cycling, told AFP: “We don’t have the means to put everyone in business [class].”
Manin went on to emphasise that it was not possible for everyone to travel to Wollongong and that he had even decided not to make the trip himself.
“Some countries, like Ireland, have decided not to participate in the World Championships,” he told AFP. “We asked ourselves if we should take all the categories, especially the juniors. We did it. But we don’t have the means to put everyone in business.
“For the men, we’ve been world champions for the last two years. We are really going there to win, while we are more of an outsider in the girls’ competition.
“If we had the mountain bike world championships in Australia with the same economic choice to make, we would put the two girls in business and the boys in economy”, he added, referring to champion riders Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Loana Lecomte.
Meanwhile, team manager Thomas Voeckler, who travelled with the women’s team in economy, said: “I am concentrating on the sport and I have no energy to lose as long as the riders of the French team are proud to wear the colours of the jersey.”
Another spokesperson for the French Cycling Federation also attempted to justify the decision when speaking to the newspaper Ouest France.
“It was a choice of the Technical Direction and the French Cycling Federation. A confirmed choice,” they said.
“Everyone travelled in economy class, apart from the elite men. Why did we do that? Because the men are going to defend their title this year, once again. And above all because economic choices had to be made.”
When are the Cycling World Championships?
This year’s UCI Road World Championships will be held from September 18th -25th, in Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.
The elite events include the men’s road race and time trial, the women’s road race and time trial, plus the mixed relay.
For the first time, the men’s and women’s time trial events will be over the same distance (34.2km.)
Russian and Belarusian teams will not be allowed to compete, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.