This weekend is the final European women’s racing before the 2015 Road Cycling World Championships, so it’s great we can watch one of the races, the Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta live, on 13th September 2015. However, it’s not all roses and clover, as with 4 days to go, there’s still no race website… If you just want to know how to watch the race, scroll down – if not, a paragraph or three of why this matters.
The women’s professional bike races have very, very varied media, and this makes things difficult for everyone – riders getting information, fans following races, journalists who can’t find the basics they need. While I can understand (but not agree with) the arguments that “they’re run by volunteers” = no social media, I can’t for this race – it’s run by the biggest race organisers in the sport, the ASO, and it’s part of one of the three Grand Tours, so there’s literally no excuse. It’s been a weird one from the start, changing it’s name from “La Course by La Vuelta” (a shout out to the Tour de France women’s crit-like race) to “Madrid Challenge by La Vuelta” and coming onto the calendar late, long after teams had arranged and budgeted for their programmes, and it has no web presence from the race.
It was promoted (and presumably given UCI 1.1 status) as a way for women to get involved in the Vuelta, and of course to benefit from the media they get – so people who follow men’s cycling would know what it means, as opposed to women’s races with unfamiliar names. But with no website, no twitter, no facebook, that becomes immaterial. If there are journalists in Madrid who usually follow the men’s side, and think hey, I’ll push this race too, how can they find out information about who’s who, why the race is important, who are the favourites, or even what the course is and where the women’s teams will set up? Compare that to the website for La Course, there’s literally no excuse.
This frustrates me, because how can this help grow the sport? And most of all, it’s disrespectful to the teams and riders who’ve changed their plans to race here, and get pretty much the bare minimum of promotion. Yeah it’s on TV, but with no information about why people should watch it, or who’s a good rider, or why the race is important, how will this attract anyone but the hardcore fan? It’s so frustrating – and a depressing way to end this block of European racing that’s had some amazing live races, with fantastic media, all run on tiny shoestring budgets (Crescent Vårgårda World Cup! GP de Plouay World Cup! The Boels Rental Ladies Tour! The Lotto Belgium Tour! etc etc etc). It’s even more annoying that because it’s ASO, it’s likely to get a free pass into the new Women’s World Tour next year, while volunteer-run races that gave us wonderful social media will miss out).
How to watch
The race is on Sunday 13th September, and starts at 15:00 Euro CEST (2pm UK BST; 9am North American EDT; 11pm Australian AEST), finishing between 17:25 and 17:40 CEST. It’ll be shown on Eurosport across their territories – apparently from 15:30 CEST on European Eurosport, from 2:30pm BST on British Eurosport (Eurosport Player here), and from 9:30am EST on UniversalSports in the USA, and from 11:25pm AEST on Aussie SBS.
It might be streamed live on the UCI Youtube, but I’m guessing about that – and there’ll be streams, of course there’ll be streams! I’ll look on Procycling Live, Steephill and Cycling Fans. Here’s an example of a stream in English.
UPDATE! The lovely Karl Lima tells me it’ll be shown in Norway from 15:30 CEST on Eurosport Norge, and on TV2 Sport
UPDATE! And RTVE Teledeporte will apparently broadcast it in Spain too – thanks Jorge!
If you want to follow the race before the TV starts, twitter can help – maybe the live LaVuelta account? Fans are using the #MadridChallenge hashtag, but maybe there’ll be a different official one? And of course, my twitter list of people who update live from races.
What do we know about the race?
I’m really lucky, for the past month, people have been sending me the roadbook, so if you want to have some information about what’s happening in the race, including the route and the rules, check it out, it’s here. Here’s the course – it’s the same 5.8km lap that the men’s race finishes on (men’s route here), and the women race it 14 times, 87km in total (don’t get me started on these short day races the UCI keeps allowing – that’s around 30-40k less than most World Cups).
UPDATE! Thanks to Joy, I’ve now seen the official website… which seems to have gone up on the morning of the race (helpful) and is in Spanish only.
I’m sure, once the race is on, I’ll love watching it, and I know the teams and riders will race their hearts out. I’ll share any video I see after the race, I’ll be chatting about it on twitter – and of course, if you find anything I’ve missed, please do tweet me or share in the comments.