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Crowdfunding campaign started to match men’s prize money for women’s Strade Bianche

€5,000 already raised to distribute to the top five finishers at the women's Strade Bianche.

Could the men and women be awarded the same amount of prize money at Saturday’s Strade Bianche?

This year, the people might have the final say.

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After an image of a pie chart illustrating the large disparity between the winning prize money paid to world champion Anna van der Breggen and Davide Ballerini after last weekend’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad went viral on Monday, one cyclist in the Netherlands decided that words were not enough.

“Creating so-called ‘awareness’ is not going to change how the UCI or race organizers look at the women’s peloton,” said Cem Tayeri in an Instagram post.

So, he challenged fans of the sport to put their money where their mouths were.

As of Wednesday morning, the “Equal prize money for the women’s peloton” GoFundMe campaign had raised some €5,000 ($5,800).

According to the InternationElles, a team of women who ride in support of gender inequality in cycling who are promoting the fundraiser, other advocates for women’s cycling have also jumped on board. The Cyclists’ Alliance, a de facto union group for women riders, will help facilitate the awarding of the money to the top five riders in Saturday’s race.

The payout for the top female finisher at Strade Bianche will be more than the €930 van der Breggen took home from Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last weekend, but not by much. In 2019, the prize money for Strade Bianche, which has WorldTour status for both the men’s and women’s editions, was €16,000 for the men and €2,256 for the women.

Can crowdfunding make up the difference?

Sadly, the use of crowdfunding in women’s professional cycling isn’t new. In 2018, UCI pro team Drops Cycling (now Drops-Le Col) set an ambitious fundraising goal of $350,000 after a prospective title sponsor pulled out for 2019. Last year, when then-Bigla-Katusha lost its title sponsors, the team turned to crowdfunding to help recoup disappeared funds.

Neither team reached a fraction of their desired amount.

Will crowdfunding solve a decades-old problems in the sport of cycling? No. But it might strengthen a signal that’s already being sent.