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December 15, 2017
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  • kamoteQ

    I follow women’s cycling more than the men’s now.

  • BobHoover Tiangco

    I wholeheartedly agree. With the exception of PR and Flanders, I follow women’s cycling more as much as the men’s now — as do many of my friends. Women’s cycling needs to ride this momentum and strike while the iron is hot.

    Not to mention, the personalities on this side of the sport are much more interesting.

    • winkybiker

      CT has a lot to do with that for me. Great coverage (within the limitations imposed by others). They just have scale back on the puff pieces and focus on the cycling.

      • Anne-Marije Rook

        Thanks Winkybiker!

    • David9482

      In a lot of ways I agree. I wouldn’t say I follow women’s more than men’s now, but definitely I find many of the women’s athletes more interesting (men cyclists make Canadian hockey players seem like “name the most interesting person you can think of, haha”).

      Plus, the racing is also very exciting.

  • velocite

    Despite the vague commentary from Ant McCrossin I enjoyed L Course. The climb up the Izoard was a winner, and that ‘pursuit’ following stage was fascinating. I wonder if both stages had been UCI sanctioned we might have seen some planning of the results up the Izoard. I expected the 3 then 2 riders working to catch Annemiek Van Vleuten to succeed, and thought Annemiek’s effort in actually increasing her gap was epic.

    • DaveRides

      And there’s the interesting part of the time-handicapped format – you can wait to form a group, but you might lose more time waiting than you’ll gain from riding in a group. Even the leader might have chosen to wait or soft-pedal if they weren’t as strong a TT rider as AVV*, but you’ll see the tactics gradually evolve just as you do any other time a race format is introduced or modified (see track cycling).

      It was good enough that it should be trialled as part of a couple of mid-level stage races in 2018. Perhaps the Tour Down Under and the overlapping Santos Women’s Tour would be good options to trial it, have a short time-handicapped race to sort out the top 20 positions after the finish of the final full stage which is on a circuit for each.

      * AVV will be a very strong chance for this year’s women’s ITT world championship as it is, but would be an unbackable favourite if they were to do the full TT course that the men have with the uphill finish. Where’s the equality UCI?

  • Matilda Raynolds

    The TT was confusing – should the lead rider have been caught, who has been working solo for most of the race by a bunch who have been working together she would’ve been stuffed – game over … Kodus to Annemiek for staying ahead! I do need to mention though how ridiculous the finish line was – they were seen for about 1.9 sec by the crowd – not even a lap of the stadium … I think the women’s race could’ve worked if they’d finished it off with Stage 3 on the Champs-elysees – surely these roads would have been closed for hours prior?

    • DaveRides

      I think it was an interesting trial of a new format, and closer to being ready for wider deployment than the Hammer Series format tried at the start of June. Could be useful for some of the shorter stage races, especially if they have circuit finishes already.

      Rochelle Gilmore was saying that La Course is easily the best exposure their sponsors get every year despite making a loss for ASO, so it seems like a decent quid pro quo for some of the women’s riders to give back a bit by helping out with the format trial.

    • ebbe

      I liked it (although I would not call it a TT). Actually, I’d like to have seen Froome do the same in 2 or 3 laps in Paris over the Champs-Élysées (= almost 14 or 21 km). Let’s see the maillot jaune defend his lead to the very final! That concept has the potential (potential, not a guarantee) to revolutionise the last day from a champagne filled parade to an all or nothing race.

      • DaveRides

        It was a time-handicap road race closer to club-level road cycling (including having parts where they only got half of the road!) and not a TT in any respect other than having a start ramp. In deriving it more from a form of road racing than a TT, ASO managed to get much closer to getting this right on the first time around than Velon did with their TTT-derived team handicap race at the Hammer Series.

        I’ve long wanted to see the final day of the Tour have half-stages – a stage 21a TT in the morning and a stage 21b sprint circuit in the afternoon if the top end is spaced out, the sprint circuit first if the top end is tight – but never considered a handicap race as an option until Saturday night.

        I’d want to see it in some mid-level stage races first though. The Tour Down Under and overlapping Women’s Tour both finish on circuit stages every year, perhaps they could contribute to the trial in 2018 by having a 1-2 lap handicap race for the top placed riders after the final full stage.

  • Steve S

    >>> So why not grow La Course into a tour? The ASO have been promising this since its inauguration in 2014, and it’s why us women kicked up a fuss when they initially announced that La Course was yet again going to be a one-day event in 2017.

    There’s a lot of guys annoyed about this too, it’s like we’re still in the 70s.

    • donncha

      I guess the earlier comment saying that ASO lose money on La Course, despite all the infrastructure being there anyway for the Tour would explain some reluctance.

  • mtbdad

    Disagree on disc brakes needing all-or-nothing implementation. The us has had mixed disc and rim brakes for four years in all categories. They report no documented incidents. British Columbia Canada had mixed disc and rim brakes in youth racing for three years with no incidents. Cyclocross, with even more severe braking than road, has had a mix for several years with no reported complaints.

    Instead we should be connecting the dots: at least two crashes at Rio (van vleuten, and nibili) started with sudden skids in damp conditions, and porte in the tour on Mont de Chat, in similar conditions, while carbon wheel reviews invariably say wet weather braking is “nothing, nothing, GRAB”.

    Why aren’t we insisting on disc brakes for safety, when there’s tons of evidence they’re better, and none they’re a risk.

    This Chicken Little fear of something new reminds me of the industry denial of doping in the Armstrong era. Have you drunk the cool aid of pro infallibility?

    • ebbe

      What people who argue about problems with different brake distances in a mixed scenario always seem to forget is that reaction times and weight already vary between riders. In the mens field, the heaviest riders are flirting with 90kg, and the lightest are sub 60kg. In the women’s field that would probably vary from 75kg to 50kg-ish? That’s a 150% range from lightest to heaviest.

      I actually do agree with an “all… or nothing” implementation, but without the “… or nothing” ;-) In other words: Disc brakes mandatory for all, asap. The technology is matured enough at this point (will keep improving of course, but it’s reliable and effective enough) and we’ve seen no injuries in the test period (out of the 4 claims of disc brake injuries we’ve seen in the mens elite field, 2 were immediately debunked and the other two are deemed very unlikely after investigations). That’s not to say we’ll never see injuries, but as you say: We’re also seeing many accidents happen on rim brakes.

      • DaveRides

        I don’t think it should be mandatory, but I do think it should be unrestricted immediately.

        Rider contracts would be the way to solve any disputes. New contracts at UWT/PCT level and new salaried WWT contracts should be required to include terms on who gets to choose whether disc/rim brakes are used (this could be always the rider, always the team, or even alternating at different races) and existing contracts should be subject to case-by-case mutual agreement with any dispute at a race to be resolved by a coin toss.

        • ebbe

          I’m fine with that as well. Just think mandating disc brakes across the field would be a tiebraker in all the controversy and take away the final big hurdle (the “uneven braking argument”) in one swoop. But definitely agree they should just be allowed unrestricted (and worldwide and on alllevels). I’s time for the trial period to be concluded.

    • David9482

      Why not use the disc brake debate for women’s cycling to get a leg-up over the men’s racing. Men are reluctant to switch so industry can’t fully utilise men’s peloton to showcase this new technology.

      Women could say to industry we’re willing to early adapt, therefore we’re the one you should focus marketing efforts on.

    • Cruz er

      This is false logic. The use of discs in CX, while important, is more akin to XC than road. The difference in the pro peloton is that there is an actual peloton of riders travelling upwards of 70-80kph. It should be an all or nothing ruling. For now, “testing” is a good way to slowly introduce it into the peloton.
      It is easier for the women to implement it because, being smaller in scale makes them more agile and adaptable in many respects. That is a disadvantage in many ways, but when it comes to technology, they can adapt much more quickly than the men.

  • Augsburg57

    My wife and I prefer to follow the women. Although we also follow the TdF, we are a bit put off by the men’s cycling industry inability to get in step with the times. Hope to see more women’s cycling. It would be nice if LaCourse was available online, as watching live via online streaming is difficult for us due to the time zone difference here on the West Coast of the US.

  • winkybiker

    Parallel men’s and women’s tour is the way to go. As you say, start 50-80km up the road and finish in the same place. Work out the times. Make the gap in terms of time/distance super generous, so the slower women don’t risk getting caught by the front of the men’s race. (Any women delayed by illness, crashes or mechanicals etc that do get caught would have to be eliminated). The roads are already closed. It would give some spectator/viewer excitement during the “set-up” that is 80-99% of the men’s stage. Camera motos would be deployed mainly to women’s race and then head back to catch the final stages of the mens race. With the transponders now in use, there would still be good information about how the men’s race was playing out, even without the motos there.

    It would require an increase in the logistics in many areas, and that might ultimately prove to be the difficulty. But think of the relative efficiency in being able to use the existing road closure, finish line set-up and media arrangements.

    • DaveRides

      I don’t agree completely on the shorter stages. There should be at least one full-length stage (UCI rules could be altered or an exemption issued) to help with developing a perception that women’s road cycling is a hard sport and doesn’t need to be restricted to distances less than local gran fondos.

      A full length road stage and a TT could also be staggered, i.e. men’s TT running near the finish area before the women’s road stage arrives on one day, women’s TT running before the men’s road stage arrives on the next day.

      Sarah Hammond’s excellent winning ride in the Race to the Rock shows that the women have no need to be afraid of a long ride!

      The toughest part about running in the same area as the men on more than a couple of days will be organisation of accomodation. The men’s teams will be quite understandably pissed if their already lengthy transfers get longer.

      • winkybiker

        I agree that women’s races shouldn’t be as short as they are in comparison to men’s stages. I was setting that aside for now as another issue. To run parallel races on the same length course, the women would have to set off well before (and hour or more?) the men to avoid the risk of the slower women being caught by the fast men. That might not be an issue, but starting them further up the road gives the opportunity for enough of head start both distance-wise and time-wise. (And they should play 5 sets in tennis!)

        • DaveRides

          There’s four options for holding a full-length women’s stage without the converging gap issue:
          1. alternating road/TT stages on the same day
          2. starting the week-long women’s stage race with a full-length stage on the Tour’s second rest day
          3. having just one day where the women head off second with a small gap between start times that would diverge rather than converge
          4. have a big gap between La Course and Le Tour could be better for the more competitive mountain stages where the action in the Tour stage starts earlier

          But perhaps the starting point should be the World Championships, where the races are on separate days and the prizemoney is already equalised.

          I agree about tennis, which would be improved if both the men and women had the rounds played over three sets and the quarter-finals onwards played over five. Azarenka and Sharapova should have the length of their matches determined by how long it takes for wearing ear plugs to become uncomfortable.

        • David9482

          Oh, IMHO women’s races have to be shorter. It isn’t a criticism, but the current women’s peloton isn’t as deep as the men’s and already has issues with finishing times (NB: I haven’t done full analysis on the riders’ ability to meet time-cuts).

          It is similar to men’s Junior riders, Masters, or 0.1 or 0.2 races: These races HAVE to be shorter purely because the slower riders in the race would be distanced far too much. Plus, it would not be healthy to expect women’s races to race as long as the men’s right away. Even the top women’s athletes are not used to racing over the men’s distances so it would not be reasonable. Lastly, if we’re running parallel men/women’s events with women going first, then if women went the full distance, you’d have an even greater risk that the men caught the women’s peloton (or at least the autobus on climbing stages)

          And, as women’s cycling continues to develop you would be able to reassess this every year. For now, let’s just fight to get a better flagstone event for women’s racing and accept that in 2017 there are some differences between the two racing syles, and plan accordingly.

          • winkybiker

            I agree that they should remain shorter, but the current ratio (~40% shorter?) is arguably too much and the credibility of the women’s effort perhaps suffers in the eyes of some potential supporters. The men’s stages could do to be shortened by a bit on average (but leave one or two long ones), and the women’s’ should be lengthened a bit. The ratio should be such that they take about the same time. The women are about 10% slower in terms of average speed on a flat stage? That (or whatever it is) should be the difference in length. Perhaps a bit more (20%?) to cover the wider spread of abilities in a women’s field.

            • David9482

              I think in the first year of the parallel races you want to be overly cautious and really give a lot of a buffer to make sure the two races don’t interfere. Otherwise it will be the last parallel tour! ASO would already be a very very very tough sell on this event.

              • DaveRides

                There are other ways to incorporate 1-2 full length stages into a stage race version of La Course than simply going for an oversized gap – see a few posts above.

                I’d favour running the Tour ITT stage during the boring ‘transition’ part of a La Course road stage as being the best of the three options in terms of equally catering for both TV and live spectators.

                Bringing in equal (or near-equal) courses could be something to do for the first time at the Road World Championships, where the races are already scheduled for different days and the prizemoney is already equalised so we’re just waiting for the race format to catch up. Meeting in the middle with a 200-220km course next year could be a great first start for a new era of tougher courses for the women and some slight reductions in length to boost the excitement of men’s races.

                • David9482

                  Good ideas, they are definitely options to consider.

                  One main issue with a few of them, the idea is to utilise the exact same course set-up and take down (and therefore sharing labour costs, etc.). If you’re running a women’s full-stage and a men’s TT on one day, then you have 2 courses. Anyways, this is a general discussion and maybe using the boring men’s TT day to run a women’s full stage might increase TV ratings and therefore ad revenue on that day so it might offset the costs. I haven’t done full analysis is, but the ASO should make sure to get in touch, I’d love to run the numbers for them on potential scenarios!!!!

                  • DaveRides

                    Use the last 30-40km of the La Course road stage as the route of the Tour de France ITT.
                    The only extra setup/takedown would be the stuff associated with the TT start, but having two start lines on the same day is something ASO already do when the women race just the second half of La Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

                    An ITT stage can be exciting when it gets towards the end with the riders who are in the GC battle. With a couple of tweaks to UCI regulations (or politely ignoring them) you could run most of the Tour ITT before La Course goes through but save the best of the Tour ITT (the top ten on GC and the best TT specialists riding out of position) to run after La Course finishes as the climax of the day. It would be the ideal format for both TV viewers and the spectators on the ground.

              • winkybiker
                • David9482

                  Oh my…. yeah, ASO would DEFINITELY not want that to happen

                  • DaveRides

                    The viability of a double header race day with La Course and Le Tour on the same roads would depend on the finals of both races being separated by enough time to have both televised live, so the commercial concerns would ensure the logistical concerns would never turn into an issue.

                    I don’t remember there still being La Course riders trundling around the Champs Elysee circuit when the Tour peloton arrived last year or blocking the GC battle on the Col du Izoard this year, so maybe this ASO mob might know a thing or two about organising bike races.

                    I’m sure the bosses of the UCI Women’s Teams would be mindful of which race needs to be subsidised by the other and ensure that no edition of La Course is raced at less than the lowest predicted average speed.

                    • David9482

                      Well…. La Course didn’t interfere with the men’s race at D’Izoard or on the Champs because the ASO employed the technique I suggested that you did not like… they gave a huge gap between men and women’s races plus the women had drastically shortened races.

                      With that being said, the women’s Izoard race was really good.

                      Oh, and don’t kid yourself, the bosses of UCI Women’s Teams wouldn’t be determining which race needs to be subsidized, etc. all control would be held by ASO, haha… 1000%

                  • winkybiker

                    Can you imagine? Sheesh. (I rode in a Fondo last year where the group I was in caught and passed the women’s race. It was without incident, and actually kind of fun. But you definitely don’t want it happening anywhere that it counts.)

        • sps12321

          My issue with having the women’s tour and men’s tour at the same time is that I only have so much time in July for watching cycling and it would mean having to pick between the 2. On the other hand, there isn’t another great time for it since there is always racing on. I wonder if starting the women’s tour with a sprint stage on the champs Elysee and going for a few weeks from there.

          • winkybiker

            With the right planning, the women’s stages would be entering their interesting bits, while the men’s stages were still going through the endless lead-up to the action. Correctly timed and phased, the women’s race being telecast in parallel could make the viewing experience much more compelling.

    • David9482

      I agree, this is definitely the base framework for a women’s tour.

      It would add excitement to the current race parade (the pre-men’s race advertising floats, etc.) and maybe freshen up what the viewing public sees as they wait for hours to catch glimpses of the men’s race.

  • David9482

    Agreed, a women’s Tour would be great to see (I agree, make it less days and shorter stages than the men’s), and I do appreciate how the Shecret Pro does admit it’s probably much easier said than done!

    This would be great, but it does require someone pay for it and see commercial viability from it. Maybe some of the powers that be on the women’s tour step-up and do some ground work to give ASO a proposal that would make them money for this event. That’s what it will take to get this done.

    • DaveRides

      I agree that the commercial variability will be the toughest part of converting La Course into a stage race.

      The women’s teams already recognise that the one day version of La Course is by far the biggest race of the year for their sponsors. So perhaps for the first stage race edition they should offer to do it with no prizemoney as a loss-leader? They’d still end up ahead of the current situation.

      The leaders in the women’s cycling world need to think more about investment and less about welfare.

      • David9482

        Exactly, it does seem in my opinion that many people trying to get equal prize money and equal level of races forget that cycling is first and foremost, a business, and a business that really isn’t the strongest. For example, many organisers of top races haven’t done that well (eg. Tour of Georgia and other US races coming and going, plus many European races either barely break even or the profits are in the 4-5 digits, rather than 6+ digit level).

        Obviously, it is unfair that women and men don’t have the same level of races and unequal prize money, but that’s an economic issue, and it isn’t illegal for a business owner (eg. a bike race organiser) to say “I’m not setting up a race where I won’t make money”. Therefore, women’s cycling needs to make the business case BEFORE they get the better treatment.

        • ebbe

          According to what I hear, the “funny” (not so funny) thing is that UCI’s (Cookson’s?) women’s WWT have actually bankrupted several long standing women’s races, because they couldn’t:
          – Keep their spot on the calendar against the new WWT races. This then made sponsors ditch them.
          – Manage to find the money to do the UCI-mandated TV-coverage

          • David9482

            Exactly my point – “equality” in the two sports cannot be achieved overnight and people’s expectations of instant equality is, to be blunt, RIDICULOUS.

            Perhaps expectations that the powers that be (eg. Cookson) spend more than half his time to promote/strengthen/strategise and work with the organisers to make it happen in a SUSTAINABLE, LONG-LASTING, FINANCIALLY VIABLE way is the “equality” that we need.

            I hope I’m not making too much sense for everyone on this. It’s actually really sad when you hear this news. And, what you might not hear is that many long-standing men’s race organisers probably don’t want to even consider a women’s race because the related costs will even hurt their men’s race…. which is probably barely breaking even or is not making that much money. Fans treat or organisers like charities… but we don’t want to do our jobs for free do we?

            • DaveRides

              The UCI President does have much more on their plate than just women’s road racing.

              This sounds like a role for which the UCI Women’s Commission should be dedicated to working on. A look at the other activities of which the commission’s incumbent president has time for (President of the Oceania Cycling Confederation, General Manager of Athletics Australia and CEO of the Hawthorn Football Club – the latter two started well after her tenure at the top of the UCI Women’s Commission) would suggest that it is a body that could be given a bit more work to do.

  • winkybiker

    Hey look at this. An active comments section in Ella. A sign of the times.

    • David9482

      AGREED! In many ways, this side of the sport is MUCH more interesting than the men’s!!! It is very exciting to see how women’s racing is developing!

      Thank you Cyclingtips for your very very balanced journalism in this sport!

      • Anne-Marije Rook

        Thanks to you both for your readership and comments!

  • Cruz er

    Agree on womens racing on all points! The challenge is to move the Womens Giro without offending the organizers, and make room for an expanded Womens Tour.
    On another note, this gentler, kinder shecret pro without much in the way of insights and dish… and more general info is a bit less interesting as a “insider” article.

    • EasyRider

      The organisers of The Women’s Tour have tried to extend the event but it is does not have the support of British Cycling so cannot happen. (In 2017 British Cycling said this was because riders would be tired after the Philly Classic)

  • AnnaWvy

    I might have missed the obvious reason, but why would Alice Barnes consider moving to Wiggle High 5 ? and Im ignoring the pay thing, as Im fairly sure Eileen Roe didnt get paid much when she was on the team. But both Lucy & Gracey Garner have pretty much disappeared since they joined Wiggle High 5, to the point you cant see them getting picked for the GB team at Worlds this year unless Ive missed a run of injuries thats been keeping them out of selection mixes it just doesnt seem the place to be as a U23 rider to make progress at, so even if Jolien D’hoore left (to where ?), and Bronzini retired, Wiggle would be looking for more experienced riders to fill the gaps wouldnt they ? another year at Drops would seem to make more sense to me, but what do i know :)

    • DaveRides

      Same goes for the talk of Kasia Niewiadoma leaving WM3. Signing a one year deal was the only thing to do in the context of a new backer saving the team team at the last minute, but keeping her spot there as the leader there with some quite formidable domestiques looks like being at least as good a ride as is available anywhere else.

      The only problem I could see there is if prioritising reputation over form is seeing her work for Marianne Vos at races she could win.

    • EasyRider

      Don’t think Grace has disappeared. They have been developing and nurturing her quite well and she has featured in many decent events. Accept your other points and it’s a great pity Lucy is hardly seen

  • Ryan S

    There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been addressed here… In the last couple years I’ve followed women’s road as much, if not more, than men’s road racing (I’ve definitely followed women’s MTB more than men’s). Women’s road racing is just better in several ways…smaller teams, shorter races, less tactical, etc, all leads to more exciting racing. But video coverage is still quite limited. Cycling is still too hung up on tradition to move forward with women’s. There’s no reason the gap between men’s and women’s cycling can’t be closer, like women’s tennis or golf.

  • Mylotian

    Recently a TV presenter in OZ suggested that the Ninja course should be made simpler for women, because of height they are sometimes disadvantaged. and he was crucified for his comment. Likewise women’s circling events should not be shortened or made easier because of their sex. However unless the media grabs women events and televises them with as much pomp and grandeur as the men’s events they will continue to stay in the shadows, which is no less than how any other major sporting code involving women is treated.

  • Tim Ashton

    I definitely agree on the disc brakes point. Everyone or no one. It seems illogical otherwise

  • Kyosuke Takei

    I am Eri Yonamine personal coach

    Women’s circuit, this year is very interesting!
    The number of fans are coming more and more.
    Level of course also came become stricter.

    But salary is hopelessly cheap, a level of salary that can not live alone
    Sad but this is a reality

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6945f1435da9d879f31b1b84d3d239468e28ccecf89d27b49cf3137e990991b9.jpg

  • kamil krulis

    Following teams and riders on Instagram has been a great way of following women’s racing for me.
    I think the euros love racing in North America as Cross Vegas has also shown.
    The OVO tour was fabulous.
    The best/oddest stage of the year was the the ITT in the Giro for sure.
    Pursuits work great in xc skiing and biathlon, it could be a great format.
    Power to the Women’s Peloton!

  • Lieblingsleguan

    Unfortunately, there was absolutely zero “insight” in the article. This piece could well have been published by a non anonymous female pro racer.

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