cant disagree with whats been said on the Womens Tour this year, so apologies if a lot of this just echoes what others have already said, its not an edition that will live long in the memory for sure,whilst its always special to see Elite riders racing on UK roads, whether this year was essentially just a holding thing to get a race done, to keep it going on the calendar or not, parts of it felt like it was on life support to me.
Not just on the routes the stages go, though Im always reminding people these races go where there are councils willing to pay for it, and they arent interested in having hard or challenging routes, that become really tactical for teams & riders that bike racing fans like, they all want that photo of the finish line with a bunch sprint racing hell for leather people banging on boards and the winner with the arms aloft that they can then use in tourism promotion material for their town,county to show what a great place it is to visit.
plus especially on the Womens Tour, and this has been a thing even since the beginning, they literally route past nearly all the local schools they can find in the area, and the councils again for it is they paying for it, no doubt use some educational spend as part of the money deal as it lets them claim they are teaching kids about active lifestyles and sport, and they all get to stand on the side of the road by the school when the ride goes past which also gives you that look how many people have come to see this presentation thing and again the tv highlights coverage focuses alot on that kind of stuff. not saying thats a bad thing, but there arent many schools at the top of really hard cycling climbs
There was definitely a lot less promotion of the event this year, Im not sure because of Covid necessarily, as its still all about sponsors getting eyeballs on ads kind of thing, plus they cant sell it to new venues without those this event generates 1million pounds of income for your area, and they still did media rides, and there was enough that it was known about, but not alot of this is a big thing, which it is for some of the venues probably the biggest sporting event theyve hosted, for people to get excited about or involved with.
but I only made it to one stage in the end, lack of reliable fuel supply and some unpleasingly costly train tickets and crazy journey times put paid to me getting around more of the race. but I know some people who went to a couple of other stages, and we only saw one banner promoting the event at all between us, normally theres a lot more of them round the start/end points and sometimes on the routes, ads everywhere kind of thing, and there was nothing reallythis time.
and just listening to locals of those towns talk about it, most hadnt any idea what was going on or what to expect.
numbers in Clacton crowd wise were supposedly noticeably much lower than it has been for previous editions, the weather wasnt exactly bad even for October, but simply lots less people about, if you hadnt walked along by the finish line you wouldnt have even known there was an event taking place. They werent selling any merchandise, no programmes either this time, most of the trade stands were simply there for show it felt like. obviously crowds in Felixstowe completely the opposite much busier than I expected but there might have been a multitude of reasons for that which had nothing to do with the race finishing there.
lack of live tv coverage, though I spotted they had enough to pay for a helicopter for tv shots on the last stage, for what little use they made of it, said before Im annoyed about that live coverage aspect, but more annoyed by how the cycling media turned a blind eye to it, whilst banging on the drum that live tv was what the sport demanded, and I guarantee the next event that tries to pull this its just too costly excuse the same cycling media will be all over it like a rash.
it didnt feel like a WWT event should, it felt like almost a national series race but with a few more international riders, and thats not how the Womens Tour had been feeling in previous years.
I felt it was disappointing as a race overall, though I think with a fair winner, though really still amazed Vollering (even if I picked her as a likely winner) took over a minute on the rest of the field. But I didnt feel the coverage was that good at all, and it all felt a bit cheap ultimately.
maybe it had to be for Sweetspot to survive and theyll come back stronger next time, but I dont know how that bodes for future editions, or how teams may choose to prioritise it against other races in the future, it might turn into the B team kind of race that the main riders choose to avoid.