Inga Thompson is a three times Olympic cyclist, a three-times world medal winner, and she has finished on the Tour De France Podium twice. Clearly, she knows a thing or two about what it means to compete as a woman in sports. Her experience of success is so precious to women’s teams now that she has retired from competitive cycling. This year she was given a board role on the newly-established Cynisca Cycling team, formed in conjunction with USA Cycling ahead of the 2023 season.
She endured a rough ride this week as the team at Cynisca behaved in a shocking way towards her for expressing her political views.
Chris Gutowsky, the founder and general manager, distributed the following statement:
Ms. Thompson was invited to the board because of her impressive palmarés and a wealth of knowledge on international race strategy, tactics and training. If shared in the absence of politics, her knowledge and experience would benefit many and advance cycling for everyone. However, she has decided to dedicate her time to excluding people that are otherwise currently eligible to compete in UCI events. She has also attempted to use our team as a platform for her political activity.
It is quite extraordinary of Gutowsky to state that Inga would be valuable if she could keep her mouth shut about her beliefs.
Nothing could send a surer signal to young female cyclists than the treatment of Inga Thompson. If you object to men in your cycle races, then you will have your reputation dragged through the dirt of the cycling media.
Thompson is one of that rare breed of women who is willing to stand up for other women even at great personal cost. She is withstanding the abuse she receives for her views and keeping her eyes on the future for young female cyclists. She is braver than Chris Gutowsky in representing their needs and rights. I hope that whilst those vulnerable young female athletes see the backlash she has faced, they also see that if they don’t stand with her, they will lose the right to fair competition.