Cyclist Lizzie Armitstead wasn’t entirely happy after becoming Britain’s first medal winner at the London Olympics, using her success to push for women riders to get more pay and recognition.
Armitstead, 23, finished just behind gold-medalist Marianne Vos of the Netherlands in yesterday’s 87-mile women’s road race to take the silver. Russia’s Olga Zabelinskaya was third. Britain’s pre-race favorite Mark Cavendish had failed to win the men’s event a day earlier.
Armitstead said there was sexism in the sport and cycling’s ruling body should require sponsors like British Sky Broadcasting Plc -- which employs Cavendish on Team Sky -- to bankroll an equivalent women’s squad. Cavendish’s teammate Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France on July 22.
“We could get a lot more help from the top,” Armitstead told a post-race news conference.
Armitstead said she had considered asking Pat McQuaid, the president of the ruling body Union Cycliste Internationale, to “sit down and have a chat” about the matter when he handed her the silver medal yesterday.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said his organization is doing “everything we can” to raise the profile of women’s cycling and has boosted the profile of a women’s World Cup.
“What we can’t do is to impose on a sponsor to do something,” Carpani said by telephone. “You can’t force a private company to do something.”
Armitstead formed a breakaway with Vos and Zabelinskaya with about 30 miles left in driving rain, losing out to the 25-year-old Dutch rider in a sprint at the end.
Shelley Olds of the U.S. suffered a puncture while with the three riders about 10 miles from the end, ending her chances of a medal. She finished 27 seconds behind Vos in seventh place.
Armitstead, who rides for the Moordrecht, Netherlands-based team AA Drink-Leontien.nl, said that Team Sky is “perhaps missing an opportunity” by not having a female team as British women prosper in cycling.
A Team Sky official said he couldn’t immediately provide a comment.
“It’s the world we live in,” Armitstead said.