Good read IMO from an article in the Telegraph
On the second day of the Olympic Games the streets of London and Surrey were lined with spectators eager to get a glimpse of something rarely seen on these shores or television screens: women's road cycling.
Less than 24 hours after the peloton had contrived to rain on Mark Cavendish and Team GB's opening day medal-parade the heavens opened in the south east of England while over seven million viewers tuned in to watch Marianne Vos deny Team GB's Lizzie Armitstead on the Mall.
While those hardy souls lining the route draped in their Union flags - and numerous orange-clad Dutch fans - may have cursed the downfall the more thoughtful of riders will have, perhaps, rejoiced. For once there was a silver lining - and not just for Armitstead - for a sport so often marginalised to the outer regions of the internet.
"It was fantastic, the crowds were amazing it was really cool," the former world champion told Telegraph Sport as, rather eerily, the heavens opened atop Alpe d'Huez during the Haute Route cyclosportive. "Other than the Nationals we don't really have any proper [women's] races in the UK and there were just so many people out.
"People I knew who were out were saying how exciting it was to watch and that the women's race was really exciting."
However, just weeks after the Games numerous races in the women's calendar were cancelled while Pooley's own Dutch trade team AA Drink-leontien.nl itself folded which was "pretty sad", though not a surprise.
"It wasn't that a sponsor has pulled out it's just that the sponsorship contracts were all timed into the Olympics cycle. AA Drink has been a sponsor in women's cycling for a long time and Leontien van Moorsel (the former Dutch multiple world and Olympic champion) and her husband Michael Zijlaard have been huge supporters of women's cycling – I think they've had a women's team for 17 years so it is pretty sad.
"I don't know about other teams and what will happen to them at the end of the season, but it now seems to be the same story every year. I know the men's teams also have issues and they complain about a lack of money but they have no idea what it's like to have a total lack of teams."
Pooley, though, remains in love with the sport despite the apparent barriers put in place by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's world governing body.
"Let's face it, racing is entertainment and the spectators in London found it entertaining so that's really good. That's exactly what there needs to be. People just need to be able to watch the racing and see that it's exciting.
"I don't think it's a case of men's cycling versus women's cycling, or 'oh more people watched this or that race', but it's just that there's such a disparity it cycling, it really gets my goat. It's really frustrating.
"It's the same sport but gets treated totally differently. To start with, not many of our races ore on television and the UCI doesn't seem to have any interest in furthering our side of the sport and I don't see why not.
"We may go a few kilometres an hour slower, but that doesn't make it less exciting to watch and that's what people realised when they watched the Olympics - in fact, I think our race was probably more exciting than the men's race because there was action all the way in the lashing rain which added to the drama.
"It really annoys me that nobody seems to realise that, especially when you have put a lot of time, effort and passion into doing something and then it's made to feel worthless is really frustrating. I can't think of any other sport – ok, maybe football – where there's that much disparity and there are all these slurs with people saying 'women's football is rubbish'. Well you know what? It's not and it can be exciting to watch.The top level of women's cycling is very good.
"Cycling is so behind. I mean, they [the UCI] have limits on the length of our races and the number of days a stage race can be, they've basically turned it into a Mickey Mouse sport and it doesn't have to be.
Indeed, Pooley's comments echoed that of Team GB and trade team-mate Armitstead who, after winning the silver medal at the Olympic road race, said that women's cycling "could get a lot more help from the top."
Armitstead, after UCI president Pat McQuaid had presented her with her medal in London, said: "It's a big issue in women's sport. It's the obvious things: the salary, media coverage, the general things you have to cope with. If you focus on it too much you get very disheartened.
"There are three Olympic medallists now within the [Team GB] road squad on the women's side. There are lots of things that could be done. We could get more help from the UCI, like forcing WorldTour teams to have a women's equivalent.
Pooley, like Armitstead, believes too that teams competing in the WorldTour, the top level of men's professional cycling, should be encouraged to develop a women's team to run in tandem with their male counterpart, much like the Cervelo and HTC-Highroad teams had in recent years.
"If Sky really wanted to make an impact on cycling they'd put together a women's team," Pooley added. "And they could put women's cycling on television. That would make a huge difference, not just for their team but also in terms of sponsorship for all the teams.
"I've been on two women's teams that have been attached to men's teams – Cervelo [the bike manufacturer] and then Garmin-Cervelo. With Cervelo it was fantastic; they put our results on their website, they cared about us and were interested in us, they wanted to develop the sport and that's because we had a main sponsor who were interested in women's cycling because, guess what, women also buy bikes. It's not rocket science.
"Then with Garmin I don't think they really had much interest in us and it showed. But I agree that the UCI should encourage women's teams.
"Unfortunately, though, there's no point in having teams if there aren't any races. There real problem in the past few years has been races getting cancelled. And that's, also, because the UCI doesn't encourage them.
"I think they need to be getting races on the television so that sponsors want to sponsor the races. Let's face it, who, when there's a financial crisis going on wants to put money into a bike race that doesn't even get them any coverage anywhere?
"I think, quite frankly, that the UCI has quite a lot to answer for. They seem to just spend all their time regulating saddle angles and so on when they could be helping to further developing the sport."