Women’s Giro has Low Key Coverage in UK
Marianne Vos wins Stage 5 at this year’s race (from race website)
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.
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 ...
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.