WildspokeJoe wrote:It's a shame she's hanging up the cleats and I only wish her the best but (I know I'm going to catch heat for this) women's cycling is not very exciting.
And if it's not exciting people don't watch and when people don't watch sponsors don't want to pay.
That is my opinion and you may disagree but I have never been on the edge of my seat rooting during a women's race.
They are just not as dynamic as men's racing. I feel the same thing about the WNBA but I enjoy watching woman's tennis and golf. Go figure.
I think women's cycling may always struggle. It doesn't have a deep rider or fan base.
But is it that you've never been on the edge of your seat because you've never had a reason to care for the competitors? After all, we watch hundreds of crappy men's races a year where nothing at all happens until the last 3km, whether they be Unipublic one-hill specials for Purito or Gilbert or pan-flat Cav love-ins. But we watch, because we get emotionally invested in the competitors. If you have no reason to know which moves are potentially important and who the threats are, you have little reason to get excited by most men's races, and the same goes for women - it eventually just becomes some people on bikes in the background.
If we look at recent Worlds and Olympics, we can see that the women put on good races on the courses the men could put good races on, and put on bad races on the courses the men put bad races on. The lack of depth in the field is a major problem, and the lack of races is another. But the entertainment value of the races is not, because if people are given a reason to care about the competitors, they'll watch. Look at the hordes of British fans being won over to the sport by the Sky train and Cavendish. Many of them wouldn't know an exciting bike race if it was personally delivered to their door by Vino, Jacky Durand, Amets Txurruka and the ghost of Frank Vandenbroucke. But they still watch and get excited by what they see, because they care about what happens in it. That's what women's cycling is lacking - a large fanbase that is emotionally invested in the results.
I also note that the events you specify you enjoy amongst women's competition are some of those where the women's side of the game is most developed (all credit to the LPGA and relevant organisations on that), and the women's events are produced more professionally, leading to better sponsors, meaning more people can make a living doing it, increasing the depth of the field. The same goes for events where the women compete at the same events as the men - athletics, tennis, skiing (both Alpine and cross-country), biathlon, swimming. These are some of the sports where women can be the most successful relative to their male counterparts, where women's sport fares best in terms of audience in comparison to their male equivalent, and where the depth of the competition is best. With women's cycling, even the former blue riband event of the year, the Giro Donne, had to make do with some limitations coverage-wise. It wasn't shown live (instead highlights were appended onto Tour de France coverage, though I approved of this as maximising the potential audience), and while we got the pro commentary team and RAI's traditional on-screen graphics that matched the Giro, there were still no helicams. At a few other televised races, primitive on-screen graphics (if we get any at all) and a lack of cameras have made races difficult to follow - the Worlds and Olympics are the only time we get to see the women's races covered in any kind of slick and professional way. Contrast that with the IBU or the FIS, where the women's races are covered in the exact same way as the men's races, lending them an air of legitimate equivalence in the eyes of the viewer.
Now, obviously events such as World Cup biathlon and cross-country skiing can do this with greater ease (short circuits, cameras already there, women's events and men's events all part of the same competition weekend) so are perhaps better equated with track cycling, where women's competitors seem to be held in comparatively higher esteem by the casual fan than on the road. It is telling, though, that some of the most successful women's events are the ones like Plouay, RVV and Flèche, that use at least part of the course of the equivalent men's race, so cameras are already there (even if not always used - but could be if the desire to elevate the standard of coverage of women's cycling was there), the women are part of the same competition event using the same course (to an extent - even in those sports I've just praised for their positive treatment of the women you do get differences in the distances, but mostly I don't have a problem with this; the 35km vs 15km distance race in the Tour de Ski is perhaps the most striking. The distance differences don't compare to the rather arbitrary 10-day maximum and average of 100km a day or whatever the precise distance is that the women are limited to by the UCI).
I have maintained, and will probably continue to maintain, that women's cycling needs a boost. It will continue to meander if it is not given a leg up. Now, if we get our women's events that are crowbared into the men's equivalents, or we get our elevated TV presence for women's cycling, and it still fails miserably, then so be it. At least it was given the chance and failed to grab it. At the moment, saying that it's not worth giving a chance to as the events aren't good (how would we know when we see less than 5% of them?) and there's no audience is a self-fulfilling prophecy, because if it isn't given a chance then how does it get an audience? Some highlights of a women's event earlier in the day would go a long way to liven up the first hour or two of coverage on a bunch of crappy Tour de France flat stages, that's for sure.