One for the ladies

14 November 2012 | 15:00 - By Sarah van Boheemen

Of all of the stories I write about cycling, only a tiny proportion of them are about women.

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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 spectacle.

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.

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Comments (23)

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20 Dec 2012 3:09 AEST

John

From: Adelaide

"Bored to Death" must like competing against women? Good on you hero!

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20 Dec 2012 3:06 AEST

John

From: Adelaide

What a load of tripe! In most races certainly in SA, the women have to pay the same start fee to enter the race as the men, then have to race against the men, and at best get one prize for first woman across the line! No bloody wonder you cannot attract more women into racing. This sort of inequitable treatment of women must stop. If the organisers cannot arrange for women only racing, women should not, and will not support the lack of organisation.

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06 Dec 2012 22:36 AEST

WomensGP

From: Melbourne

Are race promoters actually listening to what the women want to race?

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06 Dec 2012 22:35 AEST

Women's GP

From: Melbourne

Women's Races need to be the headline event - Support events no longer cut the mustard.

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23 Nov 2012 6:02 AEST

@skippydetour

From: Expat in Europe

Womens race would be so much more entralling than the Mens that CA decided the boys could not stand the competition ! Would prefer to watch Aussie women in action as they bring results not BORING TACTICS ! ALL the facilities are in place but CA can't get Ad revenue ? Sack the lazy Ad agency ! Get marketing Anna Meares & the Ladies to the Womens' mags , not hard to do ? UCI less needs new thinking w/out phat & heinous's debatable input !

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21 Nov 2012 23:05 AEST

Murray

From: Berlin

Thanks for addressing the *real* issue, Luke!

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19 Nov 2012 14:12 AEST

snappy don

From: adel

Well done to Cycling Central for helping us get to know so many Aussie women's road riders. When we know someone, man or woman, we start to care about them and want to see if they win or not. It's hard to care about a race if you don't really know anyone in it. To me this is a more important factor in enjoying a sport than the racing itself, which is already tactical and great to watch.

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18 Nov 2012 18:51 AEST

Luke

From: Melbourne

A comment about the article itself.. I found the line "not because I feel that as I'm the only Cycling Central journalist with breasts that I need to stand up for my sex." very confrontational. After reading the article on Cycling Tips about this topic, and expecting something of the same caliber from SBS, this comment along with the general lack of content in the story I feel left it found wanting. There's no need to talk about your anatomy when it doesn't in any way support the article.

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18 Nov 2012 18:44 AEST

Luke

From: Melbourne

I think Sarah says it perfectly. Cycling coverage in Australia has come a long way in a relatively short time. Following that off screen, more females are starting to realise the joys of putting on full lycra and getting into cycling in a big way. I'm sure in a couple/few years we'll be saying "wow, look how far female cycling has come. Look how far cycling in general has come in Australia". cont. next post

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17 Nov 2012 19:43 AEST

Marymount Fan

From: Burleigh Waters

Sarah, time to get up to the Goldie to interview Emily Roper. She is the best junior in the country in road and tt and top ten in the world in both disciplines. She's a fine role model for the youngsters and must surely be knocking on the door of a pro team soon.

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