Hope it works out. Sounds like it could be a good race.
jaylew said:So, ASO would rather pull Flèche and Liège from the WT rather than provide 45 minutes of coverage for the women's races? God, how I despise that organization! Worst in cycling imo.
So yes, I was wrong. It turns out that not even the UCI making it compulsory will get us TV coverage. ASO say they aren't 'able' to provide coverage. That seems incredibly unlikely given we've been able to get live broadcasts from even tiny races like NEA4 in Finland (albeit just from following motos). I say they aren't 'willing' to provide coverage.Libertine Seguros said:ASO... at this point I'm almost certain that it's wilful sabotage. Between the steadfast refusal to offer any airtime to their races and the 2019 La Course being five laps of the Pau ITT course (which means that the women must be finished by the time the men start, which with likely around 160 men starting means they'll need 3hrs + the time to complete the course for the men to do it (1 min gaps for the first 150, then 3 min gaps for the top 10), meaning the women will probably have to start four hours before the men are scheduled to make sure there's time to do all the podium ceremonies and everything, meaning they start seven hours before the people that the fans want to see go by, and also of course it's a flat to rolling slightly hilly one-day race, something that is very over-represented on the women's calendar, as opposed to the last two editions which have been very mountainous and somewhat unique on the calendar, and also it's less likely to draw the positive crowd factor of the Champs Elysées editions either.RedheadDane said:I see the Queen of Huy won again.
And once again it wasn't broadcast...
I mean, how can they look at the climactic final kilometres of the women's race in 2018, with van Vleuten stalking van der Breggen every moment to the line, with Anna holding on for grim death and looking like she'd done it only for disaster to befall her at the last, how can they look at the mano a mano battles for the last 30km compared to the phony war enacted by the men a few hours later, how can they look at that Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig interview, in tears on the tarmac out of sheer passion and joy at, just once a year, being made to feel like a star, and say "we need to provide less of this" unless their goal is actively to stop women's cycling from catching on? See I actually kind of think that is their goal. Firstly, because at La Course last year the women rather upstaged the men. Partly that was because the women had just come from a tough Giro and there were varying fatigue levels, as opposed to the men who had raced a week of pan-flat boring stages. Partly that's because La Course is not the universal target that the Tour is on the men's calendar, so people weren't all at the same point in their form cycle. And partly that's because it was a one-day race for the women, with no tomorrow to fear. But the women's race was better received and more active than the men's. And not only have ASO failed to - no, refused to capitalise, but they have actively regressed. Why, unless they were trying to prevent the women producing an exciting race?
Why? I think ASO are worried about having to spend money that they don't want to spend. They don't want to take any risks. That's the crux of it. They don't want to be pressured into producing a bigger women's race; the whole point with La Course was to do the bare minimum and pat themselves on the back about it, so that they could say they were 'doing their bit' for equality. That's why they stuck with the Champs crit for a few years until there was expectation for more, and then they decided to ape a different stage of the race, building buzz but not having to go out of their way. If you look at the way ASO has expanded its portfolio in recent years, it's all been about taking on established races (increased stake in Unipublic, purchase of the Dauphiné) or taking money from oil rich states in the pay-to-play fashion (Qatar, Oman and similar). This can help them fund their often loss-making pet project, the Dakar Rally, which is somewhat beleaguered at the moment, this year's race struggling to get support with Bolivia and Chile both pulling out and Peru having problems stumping up the money to host. Le Tour and the cycling portfolio basically props up the Amaury family's Rally Raid interests. Spending money on what is seen as a risky investment, expanding their women's cycling portfolio, is not something they're keen to do at such a time as audiences are reducing for Le Tour, and the Dakar is in a bad way.
But, at the same time, in today's environment, they are also feeling ever more pressure to give the women more inclusive treatment. Having overstretched themselves and wildly miscalculating the level of professionalism in women's cycling when first trying to launch a women's Tour in the 80s, ASO are reluctant to try again, even at the point at which professionalism in women's cycling has come on in leaps and bounds. And they want to stymy all of the clamour to do so, in the wake of some pretty exciting racing now being seen by more people thanks to other race organisers having the temerity to produce better coverage. As a result, they don't want to run any women's cycling events that aren't concurrent with a men's event which is already extant; and they don't want to give any airtime to that women's event. By not showing the women's race, it is hard for people to judge the women's races against the men's, and it's hard for the casual fan to develop the same kind of support for the characters of the women's péloton that allows them to choose sides and want to follow them all year round; by only running events in conjunction with the men, it makes it impossible to judge what the actual appeal of a standalone women's event would be (this can vary wildly; many will only start and finish in pretty obscure locations, and many promoters struggle with a lack of funding that means races aren't well marketed, but well-run standalone races like the Women's Tour and the Ladies' Tour of Norway show that you can get some good crowds for women-only races).
As such, the only way we're going to get proper TV coverage for La Flèche Wallonne Féminin is in one of the following circumstances:
- ASO caves to the pressure and creates a bigger July race out of La Course, a facsimile of a Women's Tour de France or otherwise, and feels the need to push women's cycling elsewhere in order to maximise the potential of their investment, leading them to focus on improving coverage of those races already in their portfolio;
- Another race organiser is tasked with organising La Flèche Wallonne, with more interest in promoting the women's race
- the UCI makes it compulsory that they broadcast it.
- if we're really, really lucky, ASO will start making money from the Dakar and some more competitive editions of Le Tour will bring some more sponsors on board and mean they're willing to take a few more risks.
I mean, when the women are in the decisive parts of the race, the men are easing around with absolutely jack happening, so it's not like we can't catch up.
Sorry for a slight jump off topic but in the early '80s they told us in High School that we had to learn the metric system because by the '90s there would be no more USA standard system. I assume my math teachers meant 2090's? Its odd how I basdardize the two systems: ie: I talk about grams frequently, but throw in pounds a lot too (my new dirt wheels weigh 1650 grams, but I weigh 150 lbs). I talk about K's as distance, but in miles per hour?!Libertine Seguros said:In less infuriating or argument-inducing news, however, we have racing.
28 minutes of video re the Tour of California stage 1
Some slightly odd punditry ("now that van der Breggen and Hall are teammates, expect them to go head to head up that Mount Baldy climb"?!) and some sub-Kirby commentary with pretty excessive patriotism that even the British coverage can't come close to (apart from van der Breggen they literally do not mention any other non-US riders). Sadly no helicam footage, but a pretty good summary show otherwise, albeit with the usual idiosyncrasies of American race coverage (distances in miles and height in feet, so not as easy to actually compute quickly the difficulty of a climb as it is in Europe where km and m are preferred).
The stage was anticipated to be a reduced field sprint, but the number of hills and the wind meant it was more decisive than might have been anticipated. We had Olga Zabelinskaya - newly crowned Asian Road Race champion despite only representing an Asian country for about five months - attempting a lengthy move away, but on the late ramp of a small uncategorised climb, Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio put the hammer down to bring back the veteran Russian Uzbek, and this split the péloton and it was quickly shorn of all non-immediate threats. The inability of the commentators to immediately recognise Anna van der Breggen being the one that counter-attacked as Zabelinskaya did infuriate me somewhat, since the rainbow jersey is kind of the most distinctive one in the entire péloton, but that's basically how Anna did it - she got away and soloing into a headwind is quite the show of power. The wind then prevented any coherent chase as they rounded a right-hander and it turned into a crosswind; you couldn't describe what was left as a chasing group, it was splintered into ones and twos all over the road, fighting to assemble into a big enough group to attempt a chase. It wasn't even echelons - it was just that the group fell apart as the wind battered them. Eventually they did manage to get a group together, but it was too late to catch van der Breggen. and she set herself on the way to regaining the title in California with a fantastic solo victory. Elisa Balsamo won the sprint for 2nd with the group of 16 being split in the middle with a short timegap. Anna also got 1st through a bonus sprint which gave her some extra time benefit there, so her 18" advantage is turned into a larger one outright
Going into Mount Baldy, the time gaps for the probable GC threats (apologies to Balsamo and Sierra who are up in the GC, but I don't expect them to challenge on Mount Baldy) therefore are:
van der Breggen
Moolman-Pasio, Niewiadoma, White +31"
Hall, Wiles, Chapman, Magnaldi, Cavalli, Koppenburg, Rooijakkers, Doebel-Hickok, Zabelinskaya +33"
We can probably write off most of those who lost a minute or more, but worth noting is that Skylar Schneider abandoned, so Boels are pretty short on resources, as they now only have four riders in the race - Canuel, Blaak, Hall and Anna VDB.
Not being funny, ASO, but the freaking Vuelta a Burgos Féminas has managed to get a proper highlights program up - 25 minutes of coverage here. And the third biggest Spanish stage race of the women's calendar doesn't exactly have the same drawing power as La Flèche Wallonne either, with a middling field relatively low on star power, with a couple of decent level teams - Canyon, Alé-Cipollini - but often with young developmental teams. And obviously, Movistar.
Having commented on the idiosyncrasies of the American coverage, it would be remiss of me not to call out the Spanish coverage for the same thing that we frequently get from regional Spanish channels covering smaller races - excessive coverage of the first part of the day, and not enough of the decisive part of the racing, for example, and also just about the only aerial footage being some arty drone shots to show off the small towns the race passes through with the péloton sweeping through them rather than actually providing beneficial coverage of what's happening in the race - but if we're progressing to the point in Spain where even the smaller races are getting proper coverage, that is very heartening considering Spain had been a women's cycling deadzone for several years, apart from Emakumeen Bira, between the 2008 positive for Maribel Moreno and, really, Movistar's entry into the game.
A sizable group got away which included a number of riders from most of the larger teams in the race - with Alba Teruel and Lourdes Oyarbide, Movistar were happy enough (Eider's terrain is yet to come), Alé and Canyon were happy with their chances with Swinkels and Gafinovitz respectively, and for the most part the smaller teams were happy just to have some representation in the group. With an advantage maxing out at two and a half minutes, the race for the win could have been done by the day, but the bunch rallied and started to reel them in. The group's cohesion was broken a bit on the Alto de Tomar, when Roten Gafinovitz attacked for the QOM points, and once the péloton had a visual on the escape on the wider roads in the lead-in they were able to cut the lead significantly, however they were still 12" behind at the line, when Karlijn Swinkels launched a very authoritative sprint to take the stage win and the leader's jersey ahead of her countrywoman Marissa Baks, a 19-year-old on the Biehler team, and the even younger BePink prospect Silvia Magri. No bonus seconds, because we're in Spain.
Stage 2 video
The only 'real' climbs were at the start of this stage, but the ending was on around 3km of uphill, at low gradients, so a bit like those Volta a Portugal type finishes in places like Guarda. A bit of a shame they couldn't climb Altotero, but we'll take what we can. People like Gafinovitz were keen to attack again, but it took a long time for a concerted attack to form - when it did it was from an unexpected source, Katia Ragusa of BePink accompanied by the Paraguayan, Agua Marina Espinola, of the UCI World Cycling Centre, and when they were brought back, BePink used it to launch Nicole Steigenga off the front. For the most part, though, this was a tightly controlled stage, save for some speculative moves when they took to narrow or unmarked roads. The uphill sprint was perfect for the in-form Soraya Paladin, who was phenomenally strong in the Tour of Yorkshire, and she took everybody to school on the finale to win very, very comprehensively and make it 2/2 authoritatively for Alé-Cipollini. I might have to steal that finish for one of my Vuelta designs, though, not hard enough for time gaps and hard to know if the puncheurs or the sprinters will prefer it.
Although, as you will see from watching it, this is why the 3 seconds rule for time gaps is really, really stupid. 1 second is fine. It's stupid that Paladin is not awarded a time gap over the whole field there, let alone over the lower end of the top 10, who were a good 5 seconds behind her. Mavi García and Katia Ragusa were closest to Soraya, and Alena Amialiusik also worked her way towards some form. Swinkels held the purple jersey on countback.
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