Of all of the stories I write about cycling, only a tiny proportion of them are about women.
Sisterhood... Linda Villumsen congratulates Judith Arndt on becoming the 2012 time trial world champion (Getty Images)
SBS focuses on female cyclists as much as possible, from race highlights to the ongoing Women On Wheels segment on Cycling Central TV, and a recently introduced the “Woman Of The Week” initiative for the Cycling Central website. While we do not have the comprehensive resources to cover women’s racing in depth, we always grab the opportunities where we can.
An insightful blog from Wade Wallace of Cycling Tips addressed many of the issues as to why women’s cycling struggles for attention.
“From my own perspective, I can see what happens when I put up a post on women’s cycling on this site. The number of reads is dismal. I have limited resources and can’t afford to spend time and money on putting effort into women’s cycling. I can’t see why any commercially run site would be any different,” wrote Wallace.
While SBS is a public broadcaster without some of the pressures of our commercially run competitors, we do experience some of the same issues as Wallace. Looking at the web traffic or social media activity, the return for effort sometimes isn’t there.
I want to write about these women because I truly believe that they deserve the coverage, not because I feel that as I'm the only Cycling Central journalist with breasts that I need to stand up for my sex.
The perception of women’s cycling as being unworthy of attention is one that needs to be rectified if the sport is to grow.
Sports excel when they can create spectacles, and cycling has a worldwide following because broadcasters like SBS bring those spectacles directly into your living room.
A spectacle is defined as “something that can be seen or viewed, especially something of a remarkable or impressive nature.”
Therein lies the problem. Women’s cycling can’t be a spectacle because no one sees it. It is near invisible.
Female cyclists are rarely given the opportunity to produce a spectacle. But when they have had the cameras and eyeballs on them this year (Olympic Games, World Championships), they have performed in races that most will deem worthy of watching.
Owing to costs, Cycling Australia has opted not to have the women’s national championship road race broadcast live on SBS, which compounds the general attitude of women’s cycling being less-worthy of attention or financial investment.
The national championship is the biggest domestic race for women and yet instead of being given the same treatment as the males, the women are left wanting.
So why not put women’s cycling where the spectators are? Australian
Rochelle Gilmore recently suggested running a women’s Tour de France
concurrently with the men’s race, arguably the sport’s biggest
If anyone is to be applauded, it is 2012 Tour de France and Olympic time-trial champion Bradley Wiggins, who is backing Gilmore's women’s team. If his support does not send a strong signal that women’s cycling is worthy, than I’m not sure what will.
There are a multitude of things that need to be done to raise the profile of women’s cycling, and it starts right here.
I will write about women’s cycling, without obligation, because whatever female cyclists are achieving, they have done it with smaller teams, less support, less coverage and PMS.
All I ask is that you read it.