The 2017 Women’s World Tour and season in general have already shown us an increase in live women’s racing – from streams from the Australian 2017 openers, the Mitchelton Bay Crits and Deakin Women’s Race at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, to the entirely live Omloop van het Hageland, and the live last parts of the WorldTour races Strade Bianche, Ronde van Drenthe and Trofeo Aldredo Binda, we’ve been able to watch some amazing racing.
But the season won’t continue like that. There will be some fantastic live racing at the Healthy Ageing Tour and maybe at the Ronde van Vlaanderen, but what about at the Ardennes Week?
Just having an Ardennes Week is fantastic. The three races, Amstel Gold on 16th April, Flèche Wallonne Femmes on 19th, and the first ever Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes on 23rd, will each have a women’s race that’s part of the Women’s WorldTour – but as yet, we’ve had no news about whether we’ll be able to see them live, or even a good length of highlights, beyond 10 minutes on the UCI YouTube.
I’m most confident about Amstel, because it’s in the Netherlands, and the Dutch TV stations are probably the most committed to women’s sport, having shown Drenthe for years, and various other women’s road and cyclocross races live in the past. It’s the first time there’s been a women’s Amstel Gold since the mid-2000s, and with Limburg-based Boels Rental a major race sponsor also probably the biggest women’s cycling sponsor in the world, and Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen and Dutch superstar and multiple Olympic and World Champion Marianne Vos likely to be lining up at the start, there are a lot of incentives to show this one.
UPDATE! It looks like we might be in luck with Amstel, though there’s been no word from the race yet…
But the other two? I’m less confident.
Flèche and Liège are both owned and run by the Amaury Sports Organisation, the biggest race organiser in the world, who also run the Tour de France and La Course, the Vuelta and the Madrid Challenge, and a lot more races. Traditionally, Flèche Wallonne has been bad for women’s cycling fans. Years ago, the host broadcaster used to at least show us the women’s finish live, because the race is cleverly designed so that while the men are in a dull back part of the course, the women are screaming up the Mur de Huy, and vice versa. But in the last 4 or 5 iterations, we’ve had nothing, and not a great amount of highlights. There’s really no excuse for it, as the host broadcaster use split-screens to show breaks and chases simultaneously, and there are fixed cameras all the way up the Mur, so it’s neither a matter of cost nor of technology – it’s a question of will.
So what can we, as fans, do?
We’re around a month away from Ardennes Week, so now is a great time for us, as fans, to take some action – we can ask the race organisers what coverage we’ll get, and we can show them that there’s definitely an audience. We did this with the Ronde van Vlaanderen, via #WeWantRVVLive, which was started by Dutch team Lares-Waowdeals and Velorooms, and we can carry on that impetus. By ourselves, our voices can get lost, but together, we can make a real impact.
Please get in touch with the races, by whatever method you prefer, and tell them how much you’re looking forward to the race, and how much you want to see it. It’s simple! If you’re using a platform that uses hashtags, how about using the same hashtag? I’ve put my examples here, and I tend to over-enthusiastic in my tweets, but of course, use your own style
- Amstel Gold – #WeWantAGRLive: twitter, instagram, facebook, email: info [at] amstelgoldrace.nl – general race hashtag #AGR
You can also contact your local broadcasters who usually show women’s cycling, and ask them if we can see these races live (for example, in the UK, it would be Eurosport, for example)
Please do keep your requests as positive as possible – focus on being really excited for the race, and how much you want to see it. If they come back and say they can’t show it this year, ask them what we, as fans, can do to help them get a livestream for 2018.
This might not get us anywhere, BUT at least we tried – and there’s literally no downside at all to showing the world an audience for this sport we love.
If you want more ideas for how we, as fans, can help grow women’s cycling, I have 10 tips for really small actions that make a big difference – and if you want to know which other races might be live this year, I have a guide here.
Please do share the hashtags with your friends and fellow-fans – and if you want to share any replies you get, or any ideas for what else fans can do, please do let me know in the comments below, or on twitter. No matter what happens, at least we can say we did our bit!