In 2014, women’s cycling might just have found its saviour. It’s not a man or a woman, at least not directly, nor is it a rider or a race. It’s a small, everyday item residing in most homes and buildings across the world. Television. For first time ever the women’s world cup series will receive full television production and broadcasting.
“The big turning point of our sport is going to be this year, 2014, because the UCI have backed funding of TV coverage and production,” says Rochelle Gilmore, rider and owner of the Wiggle-Honda team.
Following what could best be described as sporadic online coverage in 2012, women’s cycling had a package of YouTube highlights for the World Cup series last season, although that too varied in quality of production. Ultimately, online coverage just doesn’t come close to airtime.
“We’re looking at getting a coverage package of each World Cup round available on the internet, as well as available to broadcasters such as Eurosport, to help the process of change in women’s cycling,” the new UCI President Brian Cookson told Cycle Sport.
Some of the credit for the initiative must go to Cookson, who made improving women’s cycling a key promise in the build up to his election. It’s perhaps too early to label him with the tag of saviour of women’s cycling, but with a predecessor once called both a “dick” and an “old fashioned bigot” by various riders in the female professional peloton, Cookson is certainly a marked improvement.
The real instigator of change in women’s cycling is the person to whom Cookson delegated the job of turning things around: Tracey Gaudry. A former bike racer turned sports bureaucrat, the Australian now sits as vice president and head of the newly formed women’s commission at the UCI.
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