UCI Women




Giro Rosa Finishes
Dateline: 12-Jul-2015
Today’s final stage to the ski resort of San Domenico di Varzo should be a fitting finale to this year’s Giro Rosa. By the end of yesterday’s time trial Anna van der Breggen (Rabo Liv) had taken the overall lead through winning the stage by over a minute from previous leader Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans). So it looks like there will be a fight all the way to the final finish line today. And race will no doubt receive plenty of coverage by the local media. But not so much elsewhere despite its sporting credentials. Which is a pity considering that this is in effect the top stage race in the women’s calendar and should be leading the push for more media coverage.

At the BBC [the world’s largest broadcaster it claims] there were online reports of the 2014 edition - plus the efforts to gain more media coverage. However the Beeb seems to have had nothing at all about the 2015 Giro Rosa on any of its output - so doing the exact opposite of what it was apparently supporting last year. This may, of course, be down to the UK rider’s results at the Giro this year. With Lizzie Armitstead a DNF in the time trial and Sharon Laws the best placed GC rider at 52nd (over an hour behind) there has not been much to make the British media take notice. With so many sports competing for media space then cycling, in all forms, is almost always far from the top spot. Even Chris Froome’s leadship of the Tour de France failed to get a mention on the BBC TV’s 6pm news last night. There would need to be some sort of scandal to get any more coverage there. But then the BBC has always resisted a dedicated TV sports channel - even though Sky now have a total of eight sports channels to meet demand in the UK.

Giro Rosa Starts in Slovenia
Dateline: 4-Jul-2015
While a vast media circus surrounds Le Tour in Utrecht the top stage race in the Womens elite calendar is much less well reported. In fact last night’s opening 2km prologue in Ljubljana received minimal coverage - not helped by the
official website lacking any results when checked this morning. However Cyclingnews.com did report that the first four places all went to riders from the Netherlands with Annemiek Van Vleuten taking the pink jersey. Their results only went as far as 57th place so there is no confirmation that Lizzie Armitstead actually started.

Without Armitstead British interest would be limited to Molly Weaver (Team Liv-Plantur) and Sharon Laws (Bigla Pro Cycling Team)[Update 6:26pm - corrected results for prologue confirm that Lizzie Armitstead finished 9 secs down in 29th place. Also confirmed that Jessie Walker (Servetto Footon) started so taking the GB competitors this year to four. Finally the Stage 1 result was confirmed as a sprint win for Barbara Guarischi with Lucinda Brand taking the pink jersey] There is a good international field of 157 riders for this nine stage event but it not surprising that it cannot compete for media attention when it shares the weekend with Wimbledon and the F1 British Grand Prix. However if you are able to get to a TV that can receive RAI Sport 2 then they should be covering the race; even though not as a live feed.

Unlike the Tour de France the final stage is not a victory parade. The last 92km stage from Verbania to the finishing summit of San Domenico di Varzo could decide the overall winner. Sadly for British fans Emma Pooley will not be around to repeat her solo victory there in last year’s race.

Route de France Next
Dateline: 3-Aug-2014
After the English 1-2 in today’s Commonwealth Games road race - and full coverage on national TV - you might be tempted to believe Sir David Brailsford’s view that Britain is the international centre of cycling. But so much dubious info is published as facts these days it is best to check the details yourself.

Take next week’s Route de France Feminine. It is a top-rank international event - in fact it one of just eleven races ranked at 2.1 by the UCI this year. If you go to the event website you can see that it will have seven stages and fifteen teams of six riders each. There are national teams from Australia, Netherlands, Lithuania, Slovakia and France. And amongst the ten other trade teams there is just one that is UK registered - Wiggle Honda. Checking through the 90 riders listed for the start next Sunday there are plenty of countries represented - but none from Britain. In fact the British Wiggle-Honda team has two from Italy plus one each from New Zealand, Germany, Japan and Spain. But if the reserves get called upon then it is possible that Amy Roberts will ride for Wiggle-Honda and Lucy Garner starts for Giant-Shimano. In contrast Australia has seven riders plus two reserves. And they did quite well in the Commonwealth Games too ...

Now this is not just an isolated example. Apart from this year’s Women’s Tour in England it is normal for international races to have no GB national teams and just a few Brits in the women’s trade teams. This year the ones most likely to figure being Emma Pooley, Lizzie Armitstead and Sharon Laws. But since Pooley retired today that will be one fewer option for next year.

So would any impartial assessment rank GB as the top cycling nation now? I think not. As a fan I just wish it was true. But sadly it ain’t ...

Women’s Giro has Low Key Coverage in UK
Dateline: 10-Jul-2014
With Britain’s Emma Pooley winning today’s stage from Gaiarine to San Fior in the Giro Rosa there ought to be a high profile response in the UK. After all the Women’s Giro is in effect the premier stage race on the calendar - with a field of 157 riders covering 9 stages (+ prologue) in the peak month for cycle racing coverage. Since it is on TV in Italy there should be little involved in one of the UK channels taking a feed and adding a voice over.

Marianne Vos wins Stage 5 at this year’s race (from race website)

But it seems likely that the race will be ignored. Not just by the media but also by the politicians. And why should UK politicians be involved? Well because some of them decided to promote themselves as caring and progressive by supporting women’s sport. For example, last year Harriet Harman took it upon herself to write to ASO requesting a full women’s Tour de France - despite having no obvious involvement in the sport before (or since). Around the same time some top sportswomen, including Emma Pooley and Marianne Vos, launched a petition calling for the organisers to Allow female professional cycling teams to race the Tour de France. Around 97,000 voted for the petition and ASO did agree to try again - but through a one day race in Paris rather than a three week tour.

I will look in the UK media to see if any mention of Pooley’s win appears in the press - or even Harriet Harman’s web site. But in practice the only way of following women’s cycling this week will be to tune into RAI ...

Update 13-Jul-2014
Emma Pooley won another stage of the Giro Rosa yesterday and, hopefully, will do well on the final stage later today [further update - Emma Pooley did win the final stage and Marianne Vos won the GC]. And her efforts were reported, at least on the BBC web site - even if they did not get a mention in any of the sports news I heard via BBC TV. But then the sports slots also made no mention of the Tour de France results either. Perhaps there was more on the BBC news channel.

However the BBC web site did report Nicole Cooke as saying that it was a scandal there is no longer a Tour de France for women and blaming sexism in cycling. A view that does raise a few issues. First it is clearly not a UK domestic issue and is not something that UK politicians or sporting bodies have any control over. Second the Tour - and all the other ASO events - is a commercial enterprise. If there was money to be made out of organising a women’s Tour de France then ASO would be in straight away. In reality the organisers have tried and failed. Just like other organisers that have also tried and failed. Third the Giro Rosa manages to keep going (and is now in its 25 edition) through being in that cycling hotbed, Italy. Even so it only has 9 stages this year rather than the 21 expected of a full grand tour.

In short there is no entitlement that a race has to be organised for the benefit of either the riders or the fans. There is no scandal or group of shadowy plotters conspiring to block the world’s top women racers from going around France in July. Just like there is no scandal that there has not been a London Six Day Race for men since the 1980s or that the last UK women’s six day race was in 1890’s. They all need a capable organiser, a big enough pot of money and some fans. Just having some fans - even ones with a moral indignation - is not enough.

English Tour Update
Dateline: 27-Apr-2014
Everything seems on track for a successful inaugural race in 10 days time. The
race website covers everything you should need to make you way to see the race at least once over the five days between Oundle and Bury St Edmunds. In fact you can download a copy of Sweetspot’s 57 page race manual from there and have all the facts you might need at your fingertips.

Since February the race has gained the backing of FriendsLife and now has an expected field of 16 teams. More once the provisional rider list is published on Wednesday 30th April. [Update - went to watch for two days despite the poor weather]

New Start
Dateline: 17-Feb-2014
Last year saw various personalities - within the sport and without - calling for more top flight racing for women. And as a result, or with great timing, a new UK tour for women was announced.

Billed as The Women’s Tour the event will be held over five days in May - starting on Wednesday 7-May-2014 (the week of the UK bank holiday). The stages breakdown as - 1. Oundle to Northampton; 2. Hinckley to Bedford; 3. Felixstowe to Clacton; 4. Cheshunt to Welwyn Garden City and 5. Harwich to Bury St Edmunds.

Route details and timings are due to be announced during March, along with a dedicated web site. Being the first ever women's international UCI ranked stage race in the UK (and the first UCI ranked road race since 2005) it is hoped that there will be a quality field and that the UK media will provide some prominent coverage.

Looking at the full calendar of UCI 2.1 ranked races for 2014 you can see that the UK race joins quite a short list of top events worldwide.

04.02.2014 07.02.2014 Ladies Tour of Qatar (won by Kirsten Wild (NED) of Team Giant-Shimano)
11.03.2014 16.03.2014 Vuelta a El Salvador
02.05.2014 04.05.2014 Festival Luxembourgeois
07.05.2014 11.05.2014 The Women's Tour
14.05.2014 16.05.2014 Tour of Chongming Island
12.06.2014 15.06.2014 Emakumeen Euskal Bira
20.06.2014 22.06.2014 Giro del Trentino Alto Adige - Südtirol
04.07.2014 13.07.2014 Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile
14.07.2014 20.07.2014 Internationale Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen
09.08.2014 17.08.2014 La Route de France
02.09.2014 07.09.2014 Boels Rental Ladies Tour

So the first Women’s Tour will be restricted to the eastern and home counties of England. But it is probably better to start this way than to have some untested grand plan. Also the organisers need to see if the calls for more top level womens racing are backed up by hard cash and supporters on the ground (and indeed a full, high quality field). But given that Harriet Harman made a high profile call for a womens Tour de France last year perhaps she, with her Labour Party colleagues, should be providing a large chunk of the prize money and start-up costs. Or is the cynical view that politicians only ever spend the money taken from tax payers too near to the truth? We shall soon see.

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