Cromwell: Lower costs, ability to adapt will help save women's teams

Daniel Benson
Tiff Cromwell (Canyon//SRAM) riding to 21st

While several men's WorldTour teams have already announced pay cuts and redundancies the women's teams at the same level have so far been exempt from the financial strains resulting from the coronavirus and lack of racing.

Women's squads will likely face cuts too, and last week the president of UNIO, Ronny Lauke, expressed his fear that several leading women's teams will be forced to cease operations or scale back in the coming weeks and months with racing off for the foreseeable future.

However, Tiffany Cromwell, who rides for the Canyon SRAM team believes that women's cycling can survive on the basis that their costs are lower and because the members of the female peloton are more experienced in generating interest for their sponsors.

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"For the entire world, it's a tricky situation right now. No one really knows what's going to happen and every day there's a different scenario," Cromwell told Cyclingnews from her current base in Northern Finland.

"But women's cycling has grown organically. So we can still inspire and promote the partners and sponsors. We still have a voice, and it's not as though we're going to disappear. It's just about being smart and how we use that voice. The question is whether the money is still going to be there and if the governments that back races are still going to carry on doing that."

While men's teams struggle with costs they are also less agile than some of the women's WorldTour teams. For example, long before the current rush to race on online platforms Canyon SRAM was leading the way with their own Zwift Academy – a story that was later replicated by a men's team.

"We're a lot more open-minded as well. Our team in particular, ever since its inception, it was always about doing things differently and it was about being engaging. We wanted to be more accessible and it wasn't always about the results. We've always looked at things from outside the box and how we can promote the team and our sponsors differently. We can be more creative."

The stark reality though is that e-racing will not come close to filling the void left by races such as the Tour of Flanders – which was set to take place this weekend. While women's cycling has indeed grown in the last few years that growth has been hard-fought and challenging. Some of the progress, Cromwell believes, could be delayed or set-back by the current climate.

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"Maybe some of the progress that was outlined for women's cycling, like the minimum stuff will be delayed because in it's current state I don't believe that teams will be able to increase their budgets.

"The biggest issue isn't that the women's teams will stop because I don't think that they're going down the route of pay cuts because we're not on the same level as the men. But in terms of the progress that women's cycling is having in the sport, that's going to take a bit of delay. 

"It's not so much the teams that will suffer immediately but the sponsors because they may have a budget for this year but when it comes to next year and the year after it might be different. Going forward companies are going to be quite hesitant at throwing money at things, especially sports."

"I'm hoping teams will have something in reserve and that they'll see the bigger picture because we will eventually get going again. I can see that e-sports is growing and that e-racing is seeing more and more riders taking part, whereas before they were hesitant about it. That has a platform now and that gives everyone hope, but of course, it's a tricky time for everyone."