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How best to fit together men's and women's classics?

How best to fit together men's and women's classics?

  • Different weekends

    Votes: 0 0.0%

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  • Poll closed .
Increasingly, the long established men's races have a corresponding women's race. The men's race is, for the moment, always longer, and at least at present gains more viewers both on TV and at the roadside. There are operational issues about policing, road closures and avoidance of the two pelotons co-inciding that will be a large part of the decision, and obviously reduplicating all the organisational resources on a second date is expensive. But I would suggest that our votes and discussion should be about what we would most like rather than what the race organisers find easiest/cheapest. The final penultimate option is acknowledgement of the matter raised in a recent GCN chat about whether there are too many races on the WWT.

There have been countless tangential references to the question in threads here over time, but I should acknowledge a couple of comments in the RvV thread today that (along with the final settling down of that race) inspired me to start a poll I have been thinking about for ages.

Just put them in separate days so we can focus on them both properly
It would be interesting to see how this would work. I went to watch E3 and GW. The crowds that were around for the mens for GW where I was on the Baneberg pretty much left and there was a small handful for the Women. Now the weather was cold and wet so I think that had a big hand in it. But last year at Flanders a lot had left the Kwaremont when the women went up it.
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It depends on what logistics enable.

I'm not a big fan of holding them in seperate weeks, or a massively different calendar for the big races the men and women share.

I myself would probably watch the most if the women are a day before, but I don't think that's always feasable.

If you have them race on the same day, I think it's better if the women finish later rather than earlier.
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To call it a success it needs to be an improvement on overall viewer numbers, not just the women, but you have other variables at play there too
I don't care that much really, as long as their's a minimum of an hour of broadcasting from the women's race, and it doesn't finish at noon on a weekday (yes, I'm looking at you, Flèche Wallonne).

The WWT is growing fast, which there are legimate concerns regarding, like for instance that teams need more riders, who they also need to pay more than previously, but we can't forget that there were also big races before the WWT came to be, which unfortunately didn't all survive, so it's not like women weren't racing back then. And since WWT teams aren't required/obliged/legally obligated/forced to race all WWT races anyway, I don't see as being that much of a problem. With women's cycling currently on the rise, I also hope that some more races will be able to attract sponsors without having WWT status.
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The objective should be to ensure that both races are placed in the maximal position to succeed. It does not surprise me to see that in the Netherlands the footage for the women - broadcast at a later time when more people who may have gone out for the day have returned home and sat down in front of the TV - is more successful than it is in Belgium; women's cycling has more currency in the Netherlands and of course more established star names who have recognition among less hardcore fans who mightn't be so familiar with the women's péloton are from the Netherlands. Belgium's women's cycling supporter base will largely be dependent on Lotte Kopecky at this moment in time.

The flip side is that because of that, there is also a negative expectation in terms of the roadside audience if you put the women's race after the men's. When the women went through beforehand, they were perceived somewhat as a support act, a warm-up, so they would get a large crowd, but a crowd that was, for the most part, there with the primary intention of watching the men race through later. This does help with the perception on the TV with large crowds, but it does have the flip side that it does have the TV scheduling issue as, of course, the point is to catch all of the relevant action in both races, which especially now there are minimum broadcast requirements on the WWT means that having the women's race first can impact that.

Personally I think it varies race to race. If somebody says they don't want to switch to the women's race to catch the finale 100km from the end of the men's Ronde van Vlaanderen because they might miss some key action, I can understand that. If they say the same thing about La Flèche Wallonne, I can't - because we don't have reasonable expectations of decisive action - that can't be caught up on in an instant - taking place 100km from the end in that race, whereas at the Ronde, we can and often do see action that has some relevance to the important selections taking place that early. The problem is that with so much more coverage available now, in many markets you will see a bit of broadcast fatigue bleed away viewers who might actually have been interested in the women's race but have simply been watching five or six hours of cycling by that point. At a race like Flèche you can broadcast the mens' and women's race as part of the same, existing broadcast package in terms of the timeslot, because the men aren't likely to see any decisive moves taken until the later stages of the race and the women are more likely to light the touchpaper sooner (although it's becoming less the case now as professionalism increases and the Mur de Huy becomes more uniformly decisive) - but at something like RVV you'd need to broadcast lengthy coverage of both races independent of one another, and given the commitment to broadcast time required for the WWT status, it makes logical sense for them to therefore append it to the existing coverage. After all that's what worked for the Giro Donne back in the day, holding their race early on, and having a highlights package ready to be appended to the end of the Tour de France coverage.

Also you have the issue of races where they have circuits or spaghetti-plate route designs that mean that care has to be taken to keep the two respective pélotons from crossing paths with one another.

As long as the races offer fair opportunity to both to make the race, things can be reasonable I think - the issue is more where you get things like the Tokyo Olympic RR or the RideLondon Classique where the women are fobbed off with a demonstrably inferior course, which seems to be improving a bit lately but there are enough cases fresh in the mind where it still remains something that we feel needs addressing. They don't necessarily need to have the same obstacles (although where historic races like de Ronde or Roubaix are involved, they do need to have enough of the iconic locations of those races to feel that they merit the identity) - just comparable opportunities to make the race. There have been some comments about the size of the gaps created by multi-mountain stages in women's cycling, but then we cannot improve the depth of the women's péloton over those courses without giving them the opportunities to race them, and also make the pure grimpeuse - a Gaia Realini, Nikola Nosková, Eider Merino type - a more valued type of rider to the big teams to have so that they can get those development opportunities.
I noticed yesterday in the Volta Limburg Classic that the men's and women's race (which wasn't even a UCI event) were broadcast concurrently. The women were finishing first, and the broadcast was switching between the two races. It wasn't as confusing as it might have been.
Do 'em like gravel, start them together, same distance. The idea that women can't race as far, is stupid. There is evidence that the longer things go, the better women perform against men (not saying you have one race, two races .but still a mass start).

How do you prevent men acting as domestiques for the women in that scenario, especially if the men's team from the same organisation doesn't have a major protagonist?
I think having the Ronde on the same day helped, it feels more like a special day of racing, tv viewing figures I think are more important for attracting sponsors and its clearly working in the Netherlands at least, I wonder if Sporza will release theirs ? and viewing figures are more important than the amount of roadside fans imo, who will ultimately grow in number as the riders get more media exposure and are made into the stars equal of the mens peloton that everyone then knows. And it seems like the pictures of the fanzone going wild last year when Lotte won have been forgotten very quickly.

Its like Paris Roubaix wont feel like Paris Roubaix till the Sunday for me, plus Ill be out as its a Saturday before Easter, so will have to record it, etc etc. I know its hard logistically to pull off combining both together on the same day, but you know already there will be less eyes watching it, less passing interest and regardless of who wins will be dwarfed by the coverage the mens race winner gets and it becomes a footnote, so how is it a better arrangement ?