Still in the midst of celebrating Olympic gold and her fast track journey to World Team Pursuit domination, Dani King’s thoughts have turned to how the legacy of London 2012 will help her ambition of riding the world’s top road races in a British professional team, as well as still being able to defend her Olympic Team Pursuit title in Rio in 2016. Dani has ridden for the leading UK registered women’s team Matrix Fitness – Prendas for the past 3 years. In this time Dani has benefitted from a carefully planned structure of racing and training designed to get her to the pinnacle of her sport, requiring detailed coordination between her team and British Cycling.
“It doesn’t seem like long since I first joined the Matrix Fitness – Prendas team in 2009. At that point in time it was my ambition to show I was strong enough to gain a place on the British Cycling academy. The academy and the national team are the pinnacle of racing in the UK where all parts of a rider’s development are overseen by Dave Brailsford and his team. I was lucky enough that the Matrix Fitness team existed and gave me the opportunity to showcase my talent and try to reach the top. They supported me in every decision I needed to make in both good and bad times and gave me the security I needed to keep progressing.”
During the summer of 2010 Dani got glandular fever, which for an athlete looking to reach their peak condition and achieve a place in the relatively new team pursuit format with the National team was a major blow. But throughout this period the team stuck by Dani and helped refocus her on new goals. Despite her illness, and following a breakthrough result in the National Championships, in late 2010 Dani got a call from Paul Manning, the National Women’s Endurance team coach, to come and try out for the Team Pursuit team. Less than two years later she is Olympic Champion and World Record holder!
“Quite simply, I wouldn’t be an Olympic Champion today if it weren’t for Matrix, setting me on that pathway to get into the National training squad, which I did in late 2010. From then on the support I received from British Cycling and Matrix has allowed me to win two World Championships, the Olympics, and break the World Record 6 times! Unfortunately teams like Matrix run on shoestring budgets, and if we are to use our Olympics success to create a real legacy for women’s cycling in the UK then we need to see a step change in the level of investment to support teams like Matrix.” continued Dani.
Women’s cycling in the UK is progressing very fast. British Cycling’s membership is now at a record high with 2,000 new members being added every month in the wake of Team Sky’s Tour de France success and Team GB’s Olympic success, and there are already hugely successful women only cycling events being run in GB such as Cycletta.
The cycling industry is worth an estimated £3bn in the UK, with women increasingly contributing a bigger proportion of the spend to this already significant pie. This is clearly helped by the sport having such inspirational role models as Victoria Pendleton, Dani King, Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell, and Lizzie Armitstead.
However, despite the increase in interest in women’s cycling it is still running far behind its male counterpart. According to Ernst & Young in its report on the economic situation of the professional peloton, the total budget for the 40 men’s pro teams in 2012 has risen to €321 million for the 40 Professional teams, an increase of 36.5 per cent in just 3 years. The average Pro Tour male salary now sits at €255,000. In stark contrast, a vast majority of the 37 professionally registered women’s teams have a total budget of less than €255,000, meaning they operate an entire team for less than the average salary of the male Pro Tour professional.
With London now over, Dani King is looking forward to her next goals, “It’s four years to the Rio games, where I want to defend our Team Pursuit title, but after this Winter’s track season I now have an opportunity to ride more on the road and to target some of the landmark road races on the world calendar. This will only be possible with a professionally registered team and I’d like to think the post Olympic interest in cycling could lead to further investment in women’s cycling and make professional registration in 2013 a possibility.” commented Dani on the 2013 season.
“I’ve loved being part of Team GB in London, and I’d love to compete in events like Tour of Flanders and Fleche Wallonne for a professional British trade team. I really hope new investors will see that giving talented women the same sporting chance as their male counterparts in this amazing sport is worthwhile, and if we were to achieve this will mean a true lasting legacy for women’s cycling in the UK” concluded Dani.