Laura Kenny believes it should be compulsory for men’s professional road cycling teams to provide a women’s set-up too.
Britain’s four-time Olympic champion has been speaking about the inequalities which exist in the road-side of the sport, compared to track cycling, where Kenny has had her highest-profile successes.
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Some teams, like Trek-Segafredo, have a dual set-up, but Kenny says it needs to exist across the board.
“I know on the track we get paid very differently, it’s through the UCI and it’s on a level peg,” she told The Independent.
“But the road-side of our sport is still disappointing.
There’s a real lack of women’s teams - there should be a clause that says if you have got a men’s team then you must run a women’s team alongside it.
“Ineos don’t even have a women’s team yet. There was talk about them doing it years ago, and I really think that could have got the ball rolling.
If you are a track rider and decide you want to go on the road, there’s just nowhere to go. People think riders give up or retire, but they simply do not have the opportunities they need.
“There are some teams that are doing things really well - Lizzie Deignan’s team [Trek-Segafredo] are a good example - but others need to step up. Women are just trying to take part in their sport.”
Kenny is preparing for the rearranged Tokyo Games this summer, where she will be looking to become Britain’s most decorated female Olympian of all time. She is just one medal behind record holder Katherine Grainger, who retired from rowing shortly after Rio 2016.
Since winning two golds in Brazil, Kenny has taken time away from the sport to have a son, Albie, but she believes more needs to be done to normalise athletes returning to the top level after maternity leave.
“The more female athletes that have children, the better it will be for everyone because it will become less of a taboo topic,” said Kenny.
“I always wanted to be a young mum, but I thought that would mean I’d have to decide between going to another Olympics or having a child. I remember sitting on a train knowing I was pregnant, not knowing what I was going to do.
Jessica Ennis-Hill was a big inspiration for me. When she fell pregnant, I remember thinking it was going to take a serious comeback from her to get back to the top level but seeing her get a second Olympic medal after having a baby made me think I could do it too.
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