Saturday, 15 June 2013

Cycle Sport on TV

ITV4's Tour Series is coming towards its conclusion for 2013. Catching up with the last round night I was struck by a coupe of things. One that it has now become a well established event in the Calendar. But also how it highlights the huge difference in the treatment of Men and Women's racing.  For the male side of the sport the tour series is a fun slightly low rent side show in terms of coverage. ITV4 and Europort show the real stuff too, the Classics, Grand Tours. But for the Women's side, the Johnson Health Tech series is just about the only televised road event. What flows from this is the whole chicken and egg thing of  without coverage how can it attract sponsors, and grow.
Nicole Cooke's retirement interview exposed the massive divide in the sport. She was for a while the best in the world, but at her peak was earning about £50k. Ok cycling is a long way behind golf and tennis in the big money stakes but this is a long way behind what Wiggo and Cav.
But what the Tour Series highlights is that the women's sport generates some great racing that can share a stage on something approximating to equal terms. For me Hanna Barnes has been the standout rider. So much so that it stands as a J'Accuse to the sport as a whole. Why don't Team Sky run a women's team? Why don't the UCI demand more of its members. And for the Broadcasters, there are women's versions of the classics that are contested fiercely, but on Eurosport and ITV 4 you wouldn't know. It is a long time to the next Olympics, the only chance for Women racers to ride one level road with the men. Something needs to move on.