Road cycling round up
Women's cycling is dissed and Chris Froome might be pissed.
Women's cycling has continued to get the short stick. The Tour of Languedoc Roussillon in France was cancelled less than 24 hours before the start, and then reinstated, but too late for stage 1 to be contested. Currently the race is under way and will finish this Wednesday. Would a cancellation of a men's race been handled in such a poor manner?
The Amgen Tour of California concluded over the weekend and before the men hit the roads of San Jose for the time trial, an invited group of professional women cyclists competed on the same course. Unfortunately they had to share the road with amateur racers. But at least there was video coverage, no? Yes, the TourTracker did broadcast the ladies racing, but it stopped after only two racers had crossed the finish line and with no results. To add injury to insult, the producers didn't switch to the men's race - we had a dark screen.
In defense to the California organizers, the camera motos were pulled back from the ladies' race so they could cover the men's time trial. But is that really fair?
Women's racing is at a crux in the road. On one hand there seems to be more attention paid to women's racing. On the other it seems to be done with half the effort - case in point the already mentioned Tour of Languedoc Roussillon and the women's time trial at the Amgen Tour of California.
Women cyclists shouldn't be satisfied with these half-efforts to promote their sport. In fact this only shows people how women's cycling is an already marginalized sport and can be pushed to the side when it's not convenient.
Proponents of women's cycling ask why a women’s race can’t be run in conjunction with a men's race. Races such as the Redlands Classic and the Tour of the Gila in the U.S. manage to pull it off every year. Race organizers counter that argument with the tried and true answer that there isn't the sponsorship money needed to fund a women's race because any race, men’s or women’s, needs to make a profit.
The lack of major women's cycling races comes down to the lack of imagination, combined with the inability by marketing people to leverage women's cycling as a package with the men's race. Another factor is the UCI itself and its president Pat “Foot in mouth” McQuaid.
Mr. McQuaid infamously stated that women's cycling hasn't progressed to warrant more than a minimum salary. This is a slap in the face to women's cycling and shows how out of touch the Irishman is about the sport he governs.
Next year I challenge the Amgen Tour of California to organize a women's professional time trial that isn't an invite-only and isn’t run like a sideshow. The following years the organizers should invest money into a women's stage race that coincides with the men's. Let's not stop there. I also challenge the other big domestic stage races to organize a women's race. I know they can do it.
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