Monday, 29 July 2013

A Women's Tour de France

I hope that Brian Cookson's public support for a Women's Tour is not just part of his campaign to be President of the UCI. Somebody of his stature throwing their weight behind it after the Tour's rather sniffy response could be a breakthrough. On the track, representing their countries Women riders have made huge leaps in recent years, and when given equal billing on the road, like at the Olympics deliver the goods. In Bejing Nicole Cooke delivered a win in a thrilling race, while in London Armisted only came up short to Vos, a true great.

But when it comes to professional road racing Women riders are getting a lousy deal, and as a result the fans are missing out. The shameful disparity in the incomes of riders was revealed when Cooke highlighted that as Olympic and World Champion she was earning £50k a year.

If you want to watch Women's road racing on TV well fat chance. Oddly because of ITV's coverage of the Johnson Healthtec series you have a better chance of seeing women riders in this slightly low rent domestic races than competing in the big World Cup events. ITV4 and Eurosport show little interest in covering these races, but at least there is a Women's Tour of Flanders. When it comes to the most famous and most prestigious cycling event in the world, nothing.

It was probably a bit rude door stepping Christian Prudomme on this issue when he came here to promote next years Grand Depart in Yorkshire. But his response, basically its all to hard, was weak. The sport has a duty to tackle this inequality, a duty most have shirked so far.