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My alarm went off at 7:15am last Saturday. I rolled over, grabbed my laptop off the bedside table, opened it up, responded to a couple messages from our new contributor José Been, and pulled up the livestream of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad just as the peloton hit the Muur. I watched as Annemiek van Vleuten yanked at the group, pulled the elastic taut, and then, on the steepest, nastiest section, snapped it in two.
Momentum is something you can feel, if you pay attention. You can feel it building, feel acceleration transform into permanence. This, I hope and I believe, is where women’s cycling is right now. A state of building momentum, reaching towards inevitability.
Late last year, we kicked off a campaign that was outwardly designed to improve and increase our coverage of women’s cycling, but which, internally, I very much thought of as a self-improvement effort. We have, I believe, always done a pretty admirable job of equality in our coverage of this sport. But admirable is relative; good or bad is absolute. One can make admirable efforts without actually producing good results. This is where we were, and this is what we wanted to change.
Why? Because women’s cycling matters. Stories matter. Normalising women in sport matters. If each generation stands on the shoulders of the one before it, it’s our job to raise today’s shoulders as high as possible. As a media company, the tools we have to do that are in our coverage of the sport.
This campaign, which we call Why It Matters, has already been successful. So many of you identified with its mission – to make coverage of women’s cycling not just better, but truly good, and truly sustainable – that we were able to start a new podcast, hire new contributors, and set out ambitious coverage plans for the entire racing calendar. This all costs money, a lot of it, over a long period of time. We were able to make it happen because of the direct and continued support of our audience. And because we’re not beholden to the whims of advertisers, we know next season will be even better.
In the hours and days after Annemiek crossed the finish line in Ninove, we published a race report, as usual. We added a massive photo gallery, thanks to the hard work of Kristof Ramon and Rhode van Elsen. There was a podcast discussion and a feature from José on a talent of the future in her first-ever classic. Thanks to GCN, we could watch the Muur attack live, with English commentary. Thanks to Voxwomen and Cyclingnews, we knew the ins-and-outs of Ellen van Dijk’s return from injury. It made her chase up the Bosberg mean something extra, somehow.
This is momentum. You can feel it building. When these tales are told from all angles, when we can watch the races live and dissect and debate them afterward, when those hidden, often beautiful stories find the surface, the whole sport benefits. We’re just part of it, but I think we’re an important part in spurring other media into action.
Caley Fretz | Editor in Chief