There are many great aspects of the Santos Tour Down Under, from the fan-inclusive activities, to the stage structure. Non-locals may not realize for example that the teams all actually stay in one city (Adelaide) throughout the entire race, and each stage simply starts/ends in nearby towns. Thus eliminating a nightly hotel shuffle to a new town.
However, more important than all of that is that there’s a legit women’s stage race held as part of the event. This isn’t some half-hearted one-day affair to appease women (*cough*, you know what race I’m looking at), but rather a complete 4 stage event. Sure, it’s not the same as the men’s 6 stage event (+ one-off single day race), but it’s a good start. In the case of the Tour Down Under, the women actually start off the festivities with a 106.5KM stage on Saturday, prior to the men on Sunday. Thus, they’d be the first to race and the first I’ll be covering from a tech perspective.
I headed up this morning to the mountains to check out the start of the women’s race, and most notably take an inventory of the women’s sports tech gear – focusing mainly on power meters, shifting, and bike computers. Though, I’ve included photos of all the bikes – so you can pretty easily look at other componentry as well.
A Brief Notable:
Now, as you’ll see – the women aren’t exactly working from the same decked out team buses as the men. In fact, not a single team had a single large team bus. At least not in the definition of what you think of as a pro cycling team bus. Rather, most were simply rented mini-vans from AVIS and Budget. They’d slap on a team logo and call it done. This isn’t much different from what I’ve seen at La Course over the past few years, where teams just repurpose small rented RV’s.
Which isn’t a knock on the teams, but rather, that’s the reality of sponsorship money in women’s cycling today. For the hundreds of registered media at the Tour Down Under, I saw precisely three other credentialed media at the start of the women’s race. I’m sure there may have been a few I didn’t spot – but this still puts it into perspective. There were no other men’s events going on within hours of this starting timeframe.
But the buses are in many ways indicative of what I saw when it comes to equipment. Sure, all teams were standardized on a single bike frame. But that’s pretty much where it ended on bike components. Only the most well funded of teams – Canyon/SRAM and United Health Care – had all the other componentry matching. The remainder of the teams were clearly assembling things as best they could to make it work.
Compare this to the men’s field and you’d find every last detail attended to. As I returned from the women’s race today I saw the bike’s of the well-funded men’s Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team, sitting at a café outside my hotel. I couldn’t help but be struck that not only were all of their bikes perfectly matching, but even their SRM PC8 head units were in matching gold. Contrast that to only a single team on the women’s side – United Healthcare – had matching bike computers and mounts (Pioneer). Every other team was largely a diverse collection of Garmin head units, spanning back 8 years ago (Edge 500) to last summer (Edge 520).
Also, it’ll be interesting to compare the three product categories (power meters, head units, shifting) to tomorrow at the men’s race. If last year’s setups are any indication, you’ll largely see almost everyone on electronic shifting on the men’s side, vs just a handful on the women’s side.
(Note that I’ll cover more of the spectator/fan portion in tomorrow’s women’s race, which is a bit easier to get around than today’s course out in the mountains since I wasn’t on a moto.)
I’m going to run through each of the teams present, and the sports tech gear they had. Note that in most cases there was some variance between bikes when it came to power meters & head units. I attempted to count up as best as possible which teams had which things, but sometimes a rider would be out on the roads warming up, checking-in, or such. So it’s possible a few out of the 102 riders may have slipped by.
Power Meters: SRM on all bikes
Head units: Garmin Edge (blend of units)
Shifting: Shimano Di2 and Mechanical
CyLance Pro Cycling:
Power Meters: SRM on all bikes
Head unit: SRM PC8
Power Meters: None
Head Units: All Garmin, except one with SRM PC8 but no SRM power meter
Random Tidbit: All bikes were outfitted with Bontrager’s dual ANT+/BLE Duotrap speed/cadence sensor spots, though, the sensors themselves aren’t installed.
United Healthcare Pro Cycling:
Power Meters: Pioneer Dual Left/Right
Head Units: Pioneer, with K-Edge Aluminum mount
Random Tidbit: All bikes were outfitted with K-Edge’s chain catcher
New Zealand National Team:
Power Meters: One Quarq, One Rotor, handful of SRM
Head units: Blend of Garmin Edge & SRM
Shifting: Shimano Di2 and Shimano Mechanical
Power Meters: Whole team on Power2Max
Head Units: Blend of Garmin Edge 510 & 520
Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling:
Power Meters: None
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: Campagnolo EPS
Power Meters: Handful of Quarq, a few SRM
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: Shimano Di2 and Shimano mechanical
Random Tidbit: This was one of the few teams on trainers, and it was quite the variety of trainers.
Canyon SRAM Racing:
Power Meters: Quarq
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: SRAM RED eTAP
Random Tidbit: This is the only team with everyone on electronic shifting and everyone having a power meter. Of course, it helps that your headlining sponsor makes both of those (SRAM).
Power Meters: At least some Power2Max, but only found limited riders
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: Shimano Di2 and Shimano mechanical
NSWIS Sydney Uni:
Power Meters: Blend of Verve Infocrank, Pioneer, Power2Max, and SRM units
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: Shimano Di2 and Shimano mechanical
Mercedes Adelaide Blackchrome:
Power Meter: None
Head Units: Garmin Edge series (mixed)
Shifting: Shimano Di2
Note: The following teams I couldn’t seem to find ahead of the race, so I’ll fill in data for them at tomorrow’s race: Sho-Air Twenty20, Hagens Berman Supermint, Maaslandster Veris, Holden.
I think what struck me the most is just how many of the riders don’t have power meters. In most cases, where a team has multiple power meters listed above, not all riders actually have power meters. Rather, some go sans-power. And even in cases where a team has (for example) mostly SRM, it’s never the exact same model. Instead, it’s clearly a blend of units from various years. Like a greatest hits collection.
Given how little it would cost various power meter companies to simply gift units to these teams, it’s surprising we don’t see more of that. For example, the ‘cost’ to a company like PowerTap or Power2Max to outfit 10 riders each with a chainring or spider power meter is pretty trivial. Sure, these teams are also often looking for cash sponsorship to offset other expenses such as travel. But at the same time, given how many coaches (yes, even Pro coaches) are increasingly reliant on power data to coach far-flung athletes, I’ve gotta believe any pro team is going to take power meters for free (over not having any power data).
Not to mention the benefit to a power meter company to be able to add a UCI Pro Team to their sponsored athlete roster for what is a relatively low expense. They’d be able to more easily fill e-mail marketing newsletters with photos of their gear in far-flung locales, rather than just another stock photo somewhere. Or said differently: Exactly what some brands do on the men’s side.
And of course – we do see some power meter brands making those bets. For example SRAM and Pioneer completely outfit their teams with units in a cohesive manner. And in the case of Pioneer, at every event – such as Interbike, Eurobike, and even CES two weeks ago – they’ve had women pro riders in the booths on bikes demonstrating the product. Yes, even if that booth happened to be in the middle of the car stereo section. It’s about making an effort to highlight women’s cycling– and they make that effort…every…single time.
With that – thanks for reading!
Oh – and stay tuned for more Tour Down Under tech goodness!
It is odd that women’s sports don’t get the same exposure as men’s ditto. I have often heard the claim that lack of dynamicity is the cause, but that is very obviously wrong when you attend the events. Too few cameras and poor filming angles have a lot more to say and effectively makes for a downward spiral with fewer sponsorships and less money and even less exposure. Consider the Olympics… a perfect example of what we’re missing.
There was a time when women’s tennis was more popular than men’s tennis. The consensus then was that was due both to the personalities involved but also the fact that the women’s game was much closer to the game that most amateurs, men and women, played, so it was more instructive to watch the women play. (No amateur could serve as hard as professional men.) I would think that’d be true of women’s cycling as well. Most amateur men would be better off aspiring to ride like Marianna Vos than Peter Sagan. Women’s golf used to be on a lot as well. Nowadays when sports channels consider poker a sport, you’d think they’d have more time for actual sports played by women.
The good old chicken an egg thing; women are not on TV because no one would be interested (wrong!). Put them on TV and see the interest soar. See the interest soar, and see the sponsors come in.
I’m a bit disappointed at Specialized, and impressed with Canyon/SRAM, and Pionner.
I have to disagree with you here. Its a reality that he majority of the female population don’t watch or even participate in sports to the level men do. That is a cold hard fact. With the all emphasis at the college level of increasing participation (in most cases at the cost of funding to male sports) it has not worked in proportion to the dollar spent. This is not opinion, go look up the data. Has a man who has three sisters and now a wife and two young daughters, I try to emphasize the importance of sports. But this is an uphill battle. Whether we like it or not, some people just aren’t wired to be interested in sports, and much larger percentage of those people are women.
I had a good friend in college who played women’s water polo. One day she went off on how her sport isn’t getting the funding as some males sports, and how other female sports are not getting funded. So I looked at her and asked a question. How many season tickets did she buy for female sports at our college? Answer, none. I then asked her if she had season tickets to any mens sports. She responded, mens basketball, football, and hockey. I said, I rest my case. The fact is that the world is majority female by a few percent. IF all the women got together to watch a sport, it would take off. Look at things like figure skating or even womens tennis. They are watched equally to mens.
Maybe we as a society should stop focusing on financial equality, and just ensure that opportunity is available.
I’d love to watch female cycling as much as I do love to watch female winter sports. The assumption that female cycling would have a dominantly female viewership is false. Maybe we need to change racing schedules. Take winter sports again: every weekend, you have a male competition and then a corresponding female competition. Sometimes at the same, sometimes at a different location. Across winter sports, schedules are coordinated, so that TV channels can show a bit of everything throughout the day. In Germany, for instance, one of the two major public TV stations will turn into full-time sports television every weekend in November to March from 9 to 5.
Now, take that to cycling. Use the same-location advantage. Leverage ASO’s power in negotiating Tour de France TV rights by bundling them and requiring TV channels to also commit to airing female races when purchasing the rights for male races. Shorten the races (yes, even those we so dearly admire) to their real essentials (say Genova – San Remo instead of Milano San Remo). Racing will be different, because fatigue will come from intensity rather then length. Okay.
But the point is: I don’t care about the gender of the people I see on TV. I want to see attacks, breakaways, sprints, and mountains. I’d love to have the female version of my favorite team making up for the lack of success that the male version had earlier, or vice versa. And truth is: very likely that’s how most people would feel if it was just there.
One potentially big mistake with gender things is that you put the gender sticker on it. It’s like: look, now there’s the female Tour de France! No, it’s just the Tour de France, and that’s just how the Tour de France is (=should be) in the 21st century.
I sometimes wonder if its worth it to discuss these things. When it comes to diversity, rationalism and logic tend to be trumped by emotion. But, I guess its better for our brains then reading some stupid news article.
Thomas, all though YOU would like to watch female cycling the vast majority of the world does not. The media complex cares about one thing, $. If there were money to made televising and sponsoring womens cycling it would be done. Sadly, there is very little interest.
My assumption that females need to watch cycling to grow it is not false at all. Marketability drives sports growth. Female sports just aren’t marketable.
Those that follow college sports from a major network can see this readily. The big ten network air’s many womens sports, volleyball, etc. Its is some of the lowest rated viewings.
“If there were money to made televising and sponsoring womens cycling it would be done.” is another assumption. If firms always did what would allow them to make (more) money, marketing of many firms would look vastly different. While things are changing, sadly, industry is mostly governed by heuristics. And yet you might be right in this case.
All what I tried to say is that there are two different marketing thoughts that apply (push and pull). (1) Investigate what the market wants and then make it. (2) Make the market want what you have to sell. Both these thoughts can succeed and fail, depending on context, product, and marketing expertise. Both these thoughts can also be used as an excuse to avoid uncomfortable pathways. Not sure what it is with female cycling, but I’m leaning towards thinking that it would have a market.
Again, take the European perspective, since this is still cycling’s home land. College sports is not a thing here. Rather few people care about team sports other than football, and they generally don’t care about female team sports unless they are going to win on an international level. Outside of the Olympics, really very few people care about individual (summer) sports other than cycling, boxing (both male only) and tennis (both, depending on who currently is best). In winter, however, things have a different flavor: Female sports is watched and female athletes are admired – but the demographics of TV and live audience are just as male dominated.
Now, maybe this is because it’s winter sports. Maybe people just really want to see snow as much as possible. Maybe winter sports has its loyal fan-base countries that are more gender-neutral to begin with. So, maybe it’s spurious. But maybe it also has to do with how winter sports are marketed, and how it has been established over the years. And then there might be lessons learned, no? Without any emotions, I dare to defend this perspective as not as utterly illogical as you suggest.
So has not to belabor the point, I’ll state that I agree with Thomas.
“One potentially big mistake with gender things is that you put the gender sticker on it. It’s like: look, now there’s the female Tour de France! No, it’s just the Tour de France, and that’s just how the Tour de France is (=should be) in the 21st century.”
Sitting here in the middle of Penn State country, a lot of the local news is about Penn State. The women’s teams are always called “Lady Lions”. I’m always amazed that they don’t rebel about that, and say they are “Nittany Lions” just like the men’s teams.
Womens cycling sums up the pointless debates we make about everything in life.
Theres the liberal, Disney air heads in life who believe their own drivel and then theres the cold reality sitting just underneath. Life is full of it and womens cycling is the prime example.
Facts are, nobody watches womens cycling and most women certainly don’t. Even the ones i know are into cycling don’t bother. Its one thing to participate, its another entirely to sit down for 4 hours to watch a race and most women are busy with the children (yes, theres another FACT for you, most women look after kids and have part time jobs)
Womens sport only survives because ‘ironically’ its the men keeping it alive. If it were left to women to keep it alive it would be out of business in a week.
Theres a lot of fluff and guff in life about women in general though (and before you say anything I’m not a female hater by any means. Take them being police officers. We all know they are only doing that job with the support of men. Unless they have a gun they wouldn’t be equal in a fight and are often supported by men if the shit hits the fan, as mens anger and strength would see to that. If you don’t believe me, just think of nuclear war. Women wouldn’t dominate as the main species in the aftermath, they would be raped and murdered. We all know it, its just the bullshit we all walk around with ‘pretending’ they are equal, they aren’t. Its the same reason why dads bring their little girls up to be ‘wary’ of other boys. because underneath the ‘equality BS’ we all know what other boys/men are capable of.
Equality doesn’t exist in the wild and it doesn’t exist in reality. Its a contrived ideology and therefore un-authentic. Men and women weren’t put on this earth to compete, they were put there to complement one and other. Fact.
Cicero once said that ‘equality only exists when the dominant person in the group accepts the weaker’ and he’s totally right.
This is why women cycling isn’t big. It simply can’t compete with the mens. Fact.
It doesn’t surprise me that you’d be the one to drag comments to a new low here. It seems to be a general trend with your comments.
Not just a “new low” but incredibly misinformed. In almost any sport where the women are promoted equally they are just as popular or more so. Look at tennis, skiing, gymnastics. For all the talk about team sports, never have women’s team sports been equally promoted. Nor do they have the infrastructure. For many sports, the popularity often is created by individual personalities. Look what Tiger did for golf. Venus and Sabrina did the same for tennis, Simone Biles for gymnastics. And, by the way, for all your men are just tougher/better BS, look at what Ronda Rousey did for MMA or Lindsay Vonn for skiing. When someone says these are “cold hard facts”, get ready for some inaccurate misinformed opinion.
This makes me sad.
Having worked in professional sport for a long time, lack of funding in female sport is unfortunately a harsh reality. On the plus side, rarely in female sport have I met less than outstanding, humble and hard working athletes who are a pleasure to work with and are amazing role models to all.
As an aside, long time reader, first time writer, and quite excited that you are coming to and covering TDU! Hope to spot you around next week.
Odd to see a wheel riser with the Wahoo KICKR 🙂
Thanks Ray! Your coverage of bike tech in women’s cycling goes a long way and I can’t wait to see more. The more the camera lens is pointed towards this rif raf state of affairs, the sooner teams will start to homogenize in the direction of Canyon SRAM.
The Women’s side of the sport is closer to the truth for the sport as a whole. As pro teams in general have no value (sans equity), and each tour operates as a loose collective at best, the sport is based on passion over sustainability. Give the team and riders greater equity and the sport stabilizes and grows. Or at least that is the argument that Lance Armstrong puts forth. What? Did I just undermine the point?
Hey Ray, I find it GOOD that you’re writing this, and that you’ve elected to post it ahead of anything on the blokes. The women deserve a bit of preferential for a change. Nice one, keep it up.
Euhm “Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling:”
Shimano DI2 and mechanical? NO, they use Campagnolo and all of them are electronic drive trains! Also i want more detail, groups (some use Ultegra for example instead of Dura-Ace), wheels,…
Ahh, good catch. I mixed up the two High5 teams in my notes. The High5 Dream Team is a blend, these are Campy EPS.
I understand the need to keep the sponsors happy and all….
But wearing a helmet on a trainer is just silly. (last photo)
It’s because she’s actually demonstrating sensor technology attached to the helmet for head position. You can read the details here: link to dcrainmaker.com
I always wear a helmet on my (new) trainer, where there’s no danger of falling off. (I always wore a helmet riding rollers for more obvious reasons.) I do it because I never want to get in the habit of sitting on a bike without a helmet.
Thanks for the explanation Ray. That makes a LOT more sense.
Paul, you sound like a belt and suspenders kind of guy. Not sure I’d ever forget the helmet just because I’d been spending time on the trainer, but if it works for you. Only wore it on the rollers for the first couple of attempts. All good after that.
Please note that Drops cycling team Bikes don’t have duotrap installed. You can see on the pictures the rubber dummy only, that’s not a DuoTrap
Nice catch, noted.
Since a good number of these women are my clients, I can tell you that many of them pay for those power meters themselves. They get reduced pricing, of course, but they often pay out of their own pocket.
Pioneer is awesome. Great people; great product.
I think most would agree that better supported women’s cycling teams will be better for the sport and for all of us in general- how can we as individuals help out?
Sponsorship dollars (eventually) follow the audience.
So the simplest thing you can do is watch women’s cycling. Watch it live if there’s an event near you. And stream it for more distant events. And retweet. I assure you – networks and advertisers pay attention to these statistics.
Buy products from companies that sponsor women’s teams and tell them that’s why you bought it. These are companies not not-for-profits, money talks. I have no real reason to choose between Shimano and SRAM. I’ll buy SRAM because the sponsor Women’s cycling.
what about male models (fashion) or male porn actors? 🙂
why don’t they earn the same money (get the same recognition)?
it’s all about the number of viewers/customers (and how attractive the product is). and on top of that: most of the women are watching male sports!
No Stages, Vector, 4iiii or the like? Given that cost is a major constraint, I would have expected to see more pedal/crank based systems be more prevalent than Pioneer or SRM.
None on the women’s side. On the men’s side, Stages (dual) is on Team Sky, and 4iiii (dual) is on two teams as well (BORA-Hansgrohe & Quick Step Floors).
Vector isn’t on any teams, though at one point was somewhat on Team Garmin. The logistics of it became the biggest challenge there for team mechanics though.
Mike from Wahoo here. Wahoo sponsors the SRAM/canyon team. They all have and use wahoo Kickr snaps.
Nice, looking forward to seeing what trainers the women use ahead of today’s Crit. With yesterday, only a couple of teams were on trainers, and only briefly.
Very sad about the coverage of ladies racing. The tide is starting to turn though, in the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire race the ladies prize money was 10 times that of the mens (on purpose, to make the point) and it was scheduled to be on UK TV all day.
Sadly the satellite uplink aeroplane broke down, so we lost all of the coverage for the day, including the mens. Still, after that Ride London also made the ladies prize money a big pot, they are competing to award the highest ladies prize fund each year, which is a good thing.
As a person who is migrating from a MAMIL (middle aged man in Lycra) to a FOSSIL (fat old slow sod in lycra) watching cycling is becoming more of a pleasure!
Fantastic run down! Thank you so much for giving the women’s field some much needed attention.
Glad to see that you and the family are in my home town. Hopefully you enjoy the racing, sights and wine that is on offer.
It does seem weird that the level of kit on these women ‘pro’ races is less that that which you’d seem on most club rides. What self-repesecting MAMIL would go to the coffee shop post-ride and not be able to bore everyone with the most irrelevant detail of his power output?
Its not really surprising that the ladies peloton are not riding a homogenised equipment across all the teams compared to the mens. Bear in mind that a lot of these teams are really just local amateur (being realistic) teams not overseas world tour level like the mens. Even some of the bigger aussie stars are possibly guesting on local teams for the summer as their main team is not here, they are bound to have different equipment. The time of the year may also have an impact. It sometimes takes a while for all the new kit to filter through to all the riders.
Although I am also sure the situation would be better at a world tour ladies race I am sure you are correct however in that the mens teams have a much greater standard equipment with the ladies teams still lagging. Until quite recently even some of the bigger mens teams still lagged and expected riders to get there own power meters (eurocar I recall for one). Continental levels teams also are not so well decked out.
Great to see one more women’s cycling specific post here!
One thing most people don’t know is that there isn’t a minimum wage in the Women’s World Tour, and a large proportion of professional women cyclists still have to keep a second job to earn a decent living.
I believe that, with adequate TV coverage, women’s cycling can be much more popular. The racing action is as good as the men’s, and many people would certainly rather watch the last 20 to 30km of a female event than the first televised 45 minutes of most grand tour stages.
I am cycling fan, not a men’s cycling fan.
I have really enjoyed the woman’s racing as of late. Only really becoming aware of it through GCN about 3 years ago. I mean I always new it existed. Learning about the people gives you a vested interested and shows like VOX and GCN help with that. As well as personalities like Tiff and Voss. The one thing I think that would really help is to build an audience through YouTube it has made super stars out of many people so it could do the same for the pro woman. In addition it gives global access and doesn’t depend on commercial TV to pick up the broadcast which they mess up during the TDF which is as big as it gets. Plus the metrics would help in building sponsorship.
I loved watching the worlds on YouTube it was real HD and I could choose to watch it on my schedule and unedited. I would gladly pay the UCI to watch any pro cycling on these terms. Why doesn’t someone run with this?
Great coverage as usual Ray. We all know women’s sports don’t get the coverage they should. Sports like football, basketball (soccer), cricket just to name a few, the difference in skill level from the men is very noticeable. Watching the previously mentioned with women, is similar to watching a second or third division for men, and to be honest most people don’t want to see lower level leagues, they want to watch the best at that particular sport. With that said I find cycling and running different as a viewer. Although women aren’t as fast as the men, as a television viewer you will not notice the difference (can your eye tell the difference between the peleton going 20mph and 25mph on TV?) In a climbing stage can you tell the women are going 10mph as opposed to 13mph the men might be doing? Definitely not! What remains is the drama and excitement on how the race will play out! So in my biased view, networks should televise women’s cycling over basketball, cricket and football.
Were you able to find the missing teams to fill in the gaps?
Yup, I found a few more tonight, and will get the photos/text edited up tomorrow.
One actually was sponsored by Quarq, so that’s cool from a tech perspective. The others are a bit less sponsored, so essentially they were a bunch of one-off bikes. I think one thing to keep in mind is that the women’s field is more diverse in terms of ability levels than the men’s. Sure, the men’s side has UniSA in there – but there were more women’s teams that were more local than on the men’s side. Meaning, that on the women’s side they took teams that were local that otherwise wouldn’t make the cut on a higher stage somewhere else.
Which is cool that those ladies (or guys in the case of UniSA) get the chance to participate, but also helps to put into perspective some of the equipment discrepancies. In the case of UniSA, they were more or less on-par with the women’s side when it came to power meters/head units/etc…
Awesome–looking forward to those highlights! Really appreciate that you’re covering the women as much as the men–coverage is one of those things that I think will lead to more equality, eventually. (At least, I hope so!!)
And yes, I think it’s great to incorporate more local teams–gives them a chance to get a lot more experience and exposure!!
Long time reader, first time commenter. Thanks Ray for writing this and shining a light on this huge discrepancy.
Information like this helps me decide where to spend my money. When I buy a power meter or upgrade any components I’ll be looking to Pioneer and SRAM. Same reason as I purchase sufferfest videos to supplement boring trainer rides. They support women’s cycling and put it in the same standing as men’s, where it should be.
As far as the van versus RV, at the Tour of California only a few of the biggest teams have their busses there. The Continental and Pro Continental teams all seemed to have just rental vans or maybe rental RVs. I don’t think all of the ProTour teams there had their bus type RV’s; probably don’t have those on the continent – I’d imagine those mostly stay in Europe. Pretty expensive to move those around the world.
A quick comment on women’s coverage – I’ve read recently that Belgium now televises woman’s cyclocross, and they actually get pretty good ratings.
UCI is the problem. Give the teams video rights & the sport will take off. Put a few gopros on the official cars & motor bikes – stream the video fead & let viewers switch between feeds.
Viewers will come, sponsorship will grow, sport will benifit – Tinkoffs plan
link to tourdownunder.com.au
Please see above the link to the actual start list of the 2017 WTDU.
Thank you for posting a generally well meaning article, Women’s professional cycling is a work in progress and its shareholders and fans will always benefit from focused and meaningful media attention. In that light, I do regret that you weren’t better prepared for your subject matter; more lucid in the article regarding what you had missed; and had applied a just a tad sharper attention to detail. It appears that you were tight on time to research and interview in a way that would have helped tell a more complete story. For example, how much more insightful it would have been had you had uncovered how/why attending teams representing three different continents raced the equipment they did…in January.
I might offer researching and contacting attending team directors and/or team press officers in advance – then validating once on site: you admirably took on quite a lot in trying to cover this subject matter prior to the start of stage 1! I guarantee you both TdU press office and the team org’s would be delighted to work with you so we all would have gained from a more comprehensive report.
Thanks for the effort and keep plugging away.
Alex (I believe you work for SRAM in their PR office, or used to anyway)-
With all due respect, I received a pile of e-mails/tweets/etc… from numerous teams covered here about the piece, and bringing light to the issue of inequality displayed in equipment alone.
I get that you may want things to fit into a cute little narrative that fits the ‘women’s cycling is all bunnies and roses because of our great sponsor’, but this post is a reality check. My point here isn’t to tell some long-winded puff (or sob) story. It’s to cover the equipment, and the very obvious lack of it when it comes to the women’s side (ironically though, SRAM was one I highlighted as otherwise).
As for why the women’s team may have raced different equipment than the men’s team – there are nothing but excuses. I heard all the reasons from the teams, yet none of them are legit when applied to the men’s side. Every excuse from being local conti teams (wasn’t an issue for the men’s conti teams) to last minute team additions (again, not an issue on the men’s side for last second swaps). Quite frankly, it’s a joke that any sponsor pretends that shipping anything that fits in a bike box to Australia is difficult or exorbitantly expensive. It’s just not, especially with shipping discounts that any meaningful sponsor would have.
The simple reality is that most of these teams don’t have coherent equipment sponsors. I talked to almost all of the team directors over the course of the week, and all echoed that.
None of which btw excuses the TDU providing all of the men’s team with not one…but two…fully air conditioned team vans. The women? They were left to go round up whatever they could at the local budget car rental location. Which – btw – is why I couldn’t find some of the teams on Day 1: They were operating out of the back of rental cars in a generic parking lot. Not vans, cars. They came to the race just like you or I would go to an age group race.
This is the reality of women’s racing today, and no amount of brand rah-rah or bike industry feel-good changes that reality.
Oh – and PS….Don’t give me this ‘In January’ BS as if it’s hard to get equipment in January. That didn’t matter for the men’s side, and it doesn’t matter for the majority of non-pro men and women cyclists watching from the sidelines that generally had better and more recent sports tech gear that the women did.
No, not PR…and I departed SRAM over a year ago, for those paying attention and/or scoring at home.
In case you read it as such, I have no axe to grind on the part of SRAM or other technical sponsors, etc. I do continue to care about the sport of bicycle racing, men’s and women’s, and especially the technology trends therein.
Best of luck on future articles and I hope you continue to cover pro women’s cycling.