I was asked this question earlier today, and it really got me thinking. I’m still riding the high of hanging out at the British National Road Championships, and talking to inspiring riders like Emma Pooley (read my post-ITT, pre-Giro interview with her on Podium Café) – and of course last month I was working on the Friends Life Women’s Tour (you can listen to me talk about that here and here, and see all the videos I collected from the race on Podium Café), but I genuinely think we’re on an upwards wave at the moment. The question is always “how do we keep moving in the right direction?” but it’s important to take a moment to be happy about what’s going well.
It’s the Giro della Toscana this week, and all over twitter, the riders have been talking about how the first two stages felt physically dangerous, with “surprise” cars in the road. This is the only .HC race on the women’s calendar, supposedly the highest-ranked stage race there is, so it’s especially bad to hear all these stories. This is important beyond women’s racing, because this is where the Worlds are taking place very soon. So, what’s been happening? And what can be done?
Today was meant to be the start of the 6-stage Tour of Languedoc-Roussillon. This should be a UCI 2.2 race, and was billed at the beginning of the return of the Tour de l’Aude, which when it as cancelled in 2011, was one of only three women’s races allowed over a week by the UCI.
The race has a dodgy history. Last year it was cancelled just two weeks before it was due to start, but the organisers have been telling everyone it was due to go ahead this year…. until yesterday, when riders had arrived, or were in the air/on the road, when they were told it was cancelled. Then they were told to stick around because it *might* go ahead, or might be a shortened race…. it’s completely ridiculous. Yes, of course it’s hard to organise races, but it shows no respect at all to the riders and teams not to give them some warning, before they book travel, let alone before they arrive.
This is very important because the women’s teams don’t have enough cash to be wasting money on getting to the bottom of France, only to have to pay to go home again. And it’s key preparation for the only Grand Tour left, the Giro Rosa, and there aren’t other races to swap to. But it’s also important because of what it says about women’s cycling – and how the UCI and cycling media sees it. If you looked on the UCI’s website, or on Cyclingnews,
Velonation or Velonews right now, you’d find nothing about this – it’s not news. This is crazy! There are so many questions raised – like, what are the UCI going to do about the women’s calendar? Why do they give UCI rankings to races like this and the Exergy Tour, that are cancelled after the season starts, when there have been very clear signs that the organisations are in trouble? And yes, why will the news outlets go crazy about Wiggins talking about “riding like a girl” but won’t even mention that women are being prevented from riding?
Saturday Sunday 12th May, it’s the fifth round of the UCI Road World Cup, the Tour of ChongMing Islandin China. This is a race on the long, wide, flat roads of ChongMing Island in the Yangtze river, connected to Shanghai by the beautiful bridge and tunnel, and the race uses both.
It’s very definitely a race for the sprinters. The “mountains” point comes when they ride up the ramp onto the bridge, and the roads have meant while riders have dropped off the back, and there can be echelon-ing, it ends up in a bunch sprint. It is usually very rainy, though, and the wind can make it a very tough race indeed – certainly no easy ride, this one!
The website is mostly in Chinese, and google translate hates that, but there’s some information on the parcours in English in this report of the press conference (google translated into English) – but if you want some more on the race, Melissa Hoskins has a race preview on the ORICA-AIS website of the World Cup and and the Tour of ChongMing Island stage race, which ran 8th-12th May. Because the Island isn’t a large one, the stage race runs on a lot of the same roads. Here’s the video we’ve had of that so far, and much more info below the jump:
I’ve already talked about riders who blog on their own sites and on team sites, and use twitter, but now it’s time for some visuals! Here are some great ways video is used in women’s cycling, but riders, teams and fans – and as ever, if you know more, let me know in the comments!
Rochelle’s World – Rochelle Gilmore
I could have mentioned Rochelle Gilmore for her excellent blogs (I especially like this blog on how it feels to be on the receiving end of Teutenberg’s tactical genius, from last years ChongMing Island tour – and more recently, following her hard path back to pro racing, after she had to learn to walk again, after a crash in last year’s Giro Donne) and for her twitter, but what really makes this Aussie sprint star stand apart is her use of video. She’s got an ongoing series on her youtube channel, following her life on and off the bike, and it’s a lot of fun