Emma Pooley - Not Happy with UCI

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."
 
I suppose the question is, is the UCI a business or a non-profit organisation focused on making progress to the sport. I don't think they even know the answer themselves (or they do but it's one that's not favourable to women's cycling).
 
Jan 11, 2010
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They're the Union Cycliste Internationale, if they want to restrict themselves to furthering the sport of men's cycling they should change their name.
 
Aug 13, 2010
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spalco said:
I suppose the question is, is the UCI a business or a non-profit organisation focused on making progress to the sport. I don't think they even know the answer themselves (or they do but it's one that's not favourable to women's cycling).
From the UCI Mission Statement
In particular, the UCI:

• organises the UCI World Championships and the UCI World Cups,
• collaborates with the IOC to organise the cycling events of the Olympic Games,
• sets the dates of races on the International Calendar,
• establishes the regulations for the cycling disciplines,
develops the disciplines of cycling around the world,
• organises training programmes,
• fights against doping.
It depends how you read the bold as to whether it has an onus to treat men's and women's cycling equally. Of course, they also say
fights against doping
so...

Regardless of the answer I think that there is money to be made if woman's cycling is promoted in the right way.

Do we have a women's cycling thread?

EDIT:

In the UCI Constitution it goes on...

Article 3
The UCI will carry out its activities in compliance with the principles of:
a) equality between all the members and all the athletes, licence-holders and officials, without
racial, political, religious, or other discrimination;
b) non-interference in the internal affairs of affiliated federations;
c) compliance with the Olympic Charter in everything to do with the participation of cyclists in the
Olympic Games;
d) the non-profit-making purpose:the financial resources shall be used only to pursue the purposes
set forth in this Constitution. UCI members have no rights thereto.
So it sounds like they are failing on many accounts.
 
Oct 29, 2009
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Would it really be so hard for the UCI to say every team who wants a World Tour license also has to register a womens team, minimum of ten riders, minimum wage of 20,000 Euro a year. Then for every World Tour race have the womens event on the same day, on the same (shortened) route, but start ahead of the men. Costs would be kept to a minimum. The TV stations could do a half hour highlights show of the womens event before live coverage of the mens event.

Problem solved. Personally apart from the 2011 Worlds I've enjoyed watching the little womens racing I have seen and would like to watch more.
 
Not a bad idea, works for the RvV in terms of the women starting earlier and on a shortened route.

Made me chuckle when ITV4 were getting all excited about their 'highlights' of the Womens racing on the Tour Series. Jeez, it was shocking, lasted about 10mins if that!
 
The Cobra said:
Would it really be so hard for the UCI to say every team who wants a World Tour license also has to register a womens team, minimum of ten riders, minimum wage of 20,000 Euro a year. Then for every World Tour race have the womens event on the same day, on the same (shortened) route, but start ahead of the men. Costs would be kept to a minimum. The TV stations could do a half hour highlights show of the womens event before live coverage of the mens event.

Problem solved. Personally apart from the 2011 Worlds I've enjoyed watching the little womens racing I have seen and would like to watch more.
+1

Sounds like a step in the right direction.
 
Aug 13, 2010
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Sadly looks like Emma has had enough

...I’m still considering what I do for next year and whether I race at all
More...

Exactly the kind of rider that men's British cycling seems to be missing. On top of that she seems like an extremely smart and likeable person.
 
It'll be a very great shame if Emma Pooley doesn't ride next year. She's one of the most exciting rider to watch in my opinion - women or men.

I don't claim to have the answers for women's cycling, but I do know that I'd rather that the UCI spent a bit more time promoting women's cycling and bit less time promoting the Tour of Beijing.
 
Jan 9, 2010
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Yes. Clearly the UCI is letting women's cycling down. If it really existed to promote cycling around the world, why are they not promoting this, which is of relevance to half the world's population, instead of wasting time and resources on promoting half-baked men's races. I'm all for globalising the sport, but I think women's racing will never reach its potential as an international sport while the UCI is responsible for it. Run by men, for men, broadly.
 
Jul 13, 2012
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The Cobra said:
Personally apart from the 2011 Worlds I've enjoyed watching the little womens racing I have seen and would like to watch more.
Agreed. I understand that market forces are hard enough on cycling as it is, but not remarks from fans of the sport about how boring/unfulfilling it is to watch women's cycling when exposure has been close to non-existent. Would men's races have the appeal they do if we'd never been exposed to it's exciting moments over the years or had the opportunity get to know and feel invested in the riders and teams?

On the other hand, props to Emma, both for advocacy (which is probably not doing her any favours on the contract front) and for getting to the point where the PhD is within reach.

It would be exciting to see her back later in the season. Well, maybe not see, but that's certainly not her fault!
 
Dunno. A mate of mine sometimes rides with the second best Dutch woman cyclist and he's faster (over long distances, not talking about sprint). Now, I do think he is rather talented, but he barely reaches the 1,500km a year on the bike and doesn't ride in a team, not even on an amateur basis.

Knowing that, I can't be bothered to watch very often, sadly.
 
Oct 17, 2010
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Emma Pooley just came 4th Overall in a heavy-climbing Haute Route cyclosportive, amongst 600 other riders. It made me grin a bit at all those times I have read anedotic comparisons of Women to Amateur riders.

Anyway, I admit I don't really care for the average speed, when I'm reading the reports or watching the videos. I know they're slower. But racing is good. And that is good enough for me.

Regarding the UCI, what "hurts"the most is that we don't hear anything from their heads of state towards this part of the sport (I might be distracted true).Even if we don't agree. We know what is Pat's plan for men's racing. Heck, at times, he even gives a word or two to the press, commentating on the racing and favourites As far as the women goes...silence.

At this point, as a casual fan and external observer, the only thing I could see turning this around is for Sponsors, DS's, riders and staff to come together, arrange a plan and present it to Aigle. You know. Do UCI's job. Maybe discounting it on the president's paycheck even.
 
Who cares that Magdalena Neuner can't ski as fast as Martin Fourcade? We judge her against her competition, not against the men.

Why should we care that Emma Pooley can't ride as fast as Alberto Contador?

The Olympic Road Race was quality entertainment. So what if the average speed wasn't as high as at the men's? I don't see how it's an issue. Yes, it's due to Clinic matters, but Lance Armstrong has got faster times than Lucho Herrera on a bunch of climbs, and who was more interesting to watch?

The problem is not that women's cycling is boring. It's that people either don't care about it, or they do but they don't know enough to be emotionally invested in what happens. There are lots of boring men's races too, but we don't stop watching those. There are plenty of men's races where very little happens, but we still watch, glued to the screen, because every move matters. The Vuelta is a perfect example - for two weeks we had stages where all that was of any significance happened in the last 5km. But then in women's races you can see attacks left right and centre, but if you don't know about the people making them, or know enough about the race situation to be emotionally invested in the outcome, then it's just some people on bikes.

Another problem for women's cycling is of course that due to the lack of money, what little television coverage there is, except at the Giro Donne and the Worlds (and Olympics) is shot without helicopter cams, with more basic on-screen graphics, that makes it seem low-rent in comparison. That's not the fault of the broadcasters, who we should applaud for supporting the sport, nor is it the fault of the competition. Women's cycling looked to be turning the corner in 2007-8 before the Olympic cycle ended and the money left again too. It's a major problem.

The biggest problem is of course the UCI. They can't foist women's races on established events, I can see that, but some of their arbitrary rules on distance and length of races are borderline insulting. There's only really the Netherlands (and Belgium to a lesser extent) and Italy that have any level of real support for women's cycling in Europe; the USA does pretty well for itself in this regard. But as it stands, it's hard to establish new events, and we're losing old ones. The linking events in to the men's events has always been a useful option - Women's RVV, Women's Flèche Wallonne, Ronde van Drenthe, but there used to also be an ITT on the same day as the Romandie ITT, and other such events. The Emakumeen Bira used to run the same format as the Euskal Bizikleta, but a week later, and has outlived its male equivalent. After all, if you look at the sports where the women's competition is held in the highest esteem, in almost all of them the women's events are integrated into the same events as the men's - cross-country skiing and biathlon, tennis, athletics, to an extent track cycling.

I would watch women's cycling if there was more on. And despite some of the chauvinistic comments here each time it's mentioned, I'm sure some of those that make them would too. After all, we'd probably watch U23 stuff if it was on, and we'd probably watch juniors if it was on.

Also, another criticism that has been levelled at women's cycling is the lack of depth. And that's fine, that is a legitimate criticism. But part of it is due to the lack of money available (that also hampers parcours, but that's a separate argument of course); many talented riders leave the sport to focus on other things. Christiane Söder, for example, rode alongside her studies, and was then offered an academic post where the earnings outstripped what she'd manage on the road. Also, many others ride part-time, or ride alongside another commitment such as study or have those funded jobs such as Tatiana Guderzo's with the Fiamme Azzurre. The ones that can afford to ride full-time are the ones that make the money for winning the most events. And of course, because they win races and earn more money, they can afford to train more which means they win more races. Having more exposure means more sponsors likely to be willing to come into the sport, which means more people can afford to live off it, which means more people can dedicate themselves full time to it and be competitive.

It's just working out how to put that wheel in motion that's the problem.
 
Jul 25, 2010
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You shouldn't force WT teams to run a womens team. Women's cycling needs to be supported by people who care, they won't get that from indifferent WT team who see them as bit of a nuisance.

What the UCI Could do is offer incentives to mens teams to run womens teams. ie: run a womens team do get extra WT points or offer more wildcard's to pro-cont teams who run a womens team.

Or, the UCI could handout £250,000 to various teams to help them out. Maybe increase the case prizes?

There's a massive interest in Womens cycling but the UCI do ****** all to promote it.
 

LauraLyn

BANNED
Jul 13, 2012
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richardp said:
Yes. Clearly the UCI is letting women's cycling down. If it really existed to promote cycling around the world, why are they not promoting this, which is of relevance to half the world's population, instead of wasting time and resources on promoting half-baked men's races. I'm all for globalising the sport, but I think women's racing will never reach its potential as an international sport while the UCI is responsible for it. Run by men, for men, broadly.
We need women in the UCI (or better, a replacement?) that are integral in the decision-making, and women should be primarily responsible for running women's cycling.

(Nothing against any of the guys here. It's just a woman's thing.)
 
uci

not many are happy with the uci..............most of all women cyclists

i was thinking which sports do have successful womens races/tournaments?

tennis

where are womens sports treated equally as mens?

olympics

the common factor is that womens/mens events are run alongside each other not separately

so why does the uci not promote womens events alongside mens events same day / same course

also women deserve to have proper length races with similar size fields...
not like worlds / olympics where instantly womens races are seen as being inferior

just a couple of thoughts
 
ebandit said:
not many are happy with the uci..............most of all women cyclists

i was thinking which sports do have successful womens races/tournaments?

tennis

where are womens sports treated equally as mens?

olympics

the common factor is that womens/mens events are run alongside each other not separately

so why does the uci not promote womens events alongside mens events same day / same course

also women deserve to have proper length races with similar size fields...
not like worlds / olympics where instantly womens races are seen as being inferior

just a couple of thoughts
Of course, not all events can afford to do the coterminous thing, but it has worked for RVV and Flèche, and Gent-Wevelgem is setting one up too. This has worked well and I would like to see more of this - maybe a women's Lombardia, or Genoa-Sanremo or Cambrai-Roubaix. Run it early enough that you can append some highlights, even if its just 15 minutes, onto the men's broadcast at the end. I'd love for the Giro Donne to go to live coverage, but understand why they don't. They're in a good spot at the moment - it's in July when the most people are thinking about cycling, and it takes place early enough in the day that the highlights show is ready to broadcast after the Tour stage of the day. Perhaps the UCI could persuade people to broadcast highlights of the women's World Cup races by bundling them together with major World Tour events so that if a broadcaster shows one they must show the other - even if it's buried on a subscription channel at 4am, that's more coverage it doesn't currently have and people will still watch it on catch-up if they are interested.
 

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