Women will receive the same prize money as men from this year's Tour Down Under, the South Australian government said Sunday in what it believes is a world first for a stage race.
The Women's Tour Down Under is held the week before the men's event and this year was elevated to a UCI 2.1 classification, one level below Women's World Tour status.
The men's TDU, in its final stage Sunday, is the opening race on the men's UCI World Tour calendar and is a state government-owned event.
"We're going to be backpaying the... winners of last week's Santos Tour Down Under so that they receive the same paychecks as the men will for the race that concludes today," South Australia state's Tourism Minister Leon Bignell told reporters.
"We'll be the first stage race in the world to offer parity between men's races and women's races."
Bignell said the prize pool across all classifications for the women's race would be more than Aus$100,000 (US$79,900), compared with the initial pool of Aus$15,000.
"The broken bones don't hurt any less because you are a woman. You have to do just as much work as the men to become a top rider, so we think it's high time in 2018 that women get paid the same as the men do," he added.
Bignell said he spoke to UCI chief David Lappartient earlier Sunday, who welcomed the move.
"He's hopeful that other races around the world will follow suit," Bignell said.
Australian Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-SCOTT) was the overall winner of this year's women TDU last week.
"Wow, not that I needed any more reasons to love Tour Down Under. What a huge step forward for equality," Spratt tweeted after hearing the equal pay news.