Talk the Talk. Walk the Walk.

Note: Andrew Messick is the President of AEG Sports — the organization responsible for the Tour of California. The back story that has prompted this letter to Mr. Messick can be found here and here.

Dear Mr. Messick,

We congratulate you on the apparent excitement and buzz surrounding this year’s Amgen Tour of California. Team Revolution was excited to include the event in 2009’s race schedule.

Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are members of Team Revolution’s elite women’s cycling team and founders of the St. Louis-based non-profit cycling education and advocacy group of the same name. Our organization exists to teach and inspire women of all ages to ride for competition, recreation, health and fitness. When we saw the need for a comprehensive resource for women looking to explore and discover cycling in the Midwest, we created one.

Given our organization’s mission and goals, we would be remiss in not ensuring our collective voice is heard here. We find it unfortunate that the Tour of California has elected to back out of expanding women’s opportunities previously announced. I’m not sure if you could see the quiet ripples of excitement from the initial announcement of the expansion last October. Only to be stifled by its eventual withdrawal.

It is because of that retraction, we’ll not be joining the women’s field on the line in Santa Rosa. We’ve since let our supporters and sponsors know we have elected, instead, to head to Phoenix to race the Valley of the Sun stage race. While the absence of a single team might have gone unnoticed, we represent a greater collection of elite women athletes and teams that have quietly and perhaps more gracefully cancelled their trips to California and attendance at your event.

The disparity between the available support, financial and otherwise, for the professional male cyclist and the professional female cyclist is disheartening. The Tour of California is no exception to that disparity. As a race director, you have diminished the women’s role by issuing a somewhat meaningless statement regarding the rationale for your course of action. In doing so, you disregard the importance of equality and take for granted the “unprecedented field of riders” that will likely assemble for your season-opening NRC event.

We’re an emerging team and organization focused on growing the entire spectrum of the sport. We are adamant advocates for women in cycling. It’s in that vein that we will attend and support events, promoters, and sponsors investing in expanding women’s participation in—not just observation of—competition. We head to Phoenix on Thursday to demonstrate that patronage to the White Mountain Road Club and all the sponsors of the Valley of the Sun Stage Race who have dedicated consistent resources, payouts and racing days to both professional men and women’s fields.

While a response is encouraged, but not expected, we hope you’ll deliberate the weight of your actions. Thank you for your time and thoughtful consideration.

Sincerely,

Carrie Cash and Chris Roettger
Team Revolution co-founders
www.teamrevcycling.org