As the final race in the USGP series is now behind us most American pros are heading to Europe to sharpen their fitness before Nationals or to try and meet USAC criteria for automatic nomination to the USA World's team. While American women are able to meet and follow this structured criteria to fill the UCI's maximum number of 5 women riders per team, others are not as fortunate.
Over the last several years the French Federation of Cycling has chosen the maximum number of 6 Elite Men riders and only 2 Elite Women riders. France sent 18 total rider to the 2012 World Championships in Belgium, only Caroline Mani and Lucie Chainel-Lefevre represented France in the Elite Women's field. For 2013 only 11 total riders will be representing France. "At FFC, we decided that only 3 elite, 3 expectations, 3 juniors and 2 ladies will travel", said Pierre-Yves Chatelon. Citing money as the issue of why so few riders will be racing. Even though teams and riders have offered to pay their own way, the FFC will still not grant them a race number. Julie Krasniak had some thoughts this past weekend in Bend, "All they have to do is give us a number to go", "It's not normal to take 6 men and only 2 women… it's not balanced.. Its a discrimination by sex".
As of right now French Cyclocross director Chatelon has not named any women to the Elite team heading to Louisville. Chatelon has said that they will make a decision after the French Nationals race on January 12th, leaving only two weeks for selected riders to prepare for Worlds.
As of now France has six women in the top 25 UCI Cyclocross rankings. Two of which (Caroline Mani 19th, and Julie Krasniak 20th) have spend most of their seasons racing in the US, including the Louisville course. "If you don't race in France, you lost your chance to go", said Krasniak "the qualification is meet only if you race the Challenge National". The French Challenge National is a short 3 race series. Krasniak opted to race the longer USGP were she finished 3rd in the series.
It is becoming more popular for European women to come spend part, or most, of their season racing in America. "The equal prize money that a lot of the US promoters have been doing is huge", Katerina Nash commenting on why so many European women are staying in the US and not going back to Europe.
But now it seems that some of these riders are being discriminated against for making a living by going after the bigger prize purses and racing on American based teams. This does not say anything good to riders, sponsors or future racers. What does the FFC have to lose when riders pay their own way and just want a bib number? Is it a case of sexual discrimination? Should the UCI be able to step in and force these federations to give qualifying riders a bib number in order fill the 5 rider roster?