It goes without saying the international TV coverage and worldwide exposure the Tour de France's new one-day women's race will be an enormous advertisement for the women's game at a time when it's screaming for global attention, recognition and respect.
By
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

There's no doubt the accolades at the continued work and commitment for the women's cause belong to the vision of UCI heavyweights Tracey Gaudry and Brian Cookson. Their pledge to change the image of world cycling is being realised and subsequently acted upon by the ASO.

But where does Australian cycling sit in terms of supporting women's cycling?

Sadly, I feel we are being left behind but hope a knee-jerk reaction is not too far away.

Take our two biggest stage races - the Santos Tour Down Under and Jayco Herald Sun Tour. Neither officially support a women's race to coincide with the men's main event. Sure the Santos Women's Cup is held during the Tour Down Under in January but that's where the similarities end.

Apart from the opening leg of the three-race series, which takes place prior to the People's Choice criterium, the event is otherwise held on make-shift tracks in Adelaide's suburban centres far removed from the TDU itself. If you ask me it's viewed as a token series which is run on the smell of an oily rag; forgotten as the rest of Adelaide's attention is focused elsewhere.

Why doesn't the TDU organisation embrace women's cycling and share the love with the hundreds of thousands who come to support the male superstars? Since its inception in 1999, the TDU has modelled its event around (in every way) around the Tour de France, and they've done very well. But organising and fully endorsing a women's race is the next step.

For its part, Cycling Australia must be commended for doing its share of supporting women's cycling especially given the limited funds it has had in order to keep the Subaru National Road Series buoyant. Races are held in most states and are enjoyed by fans and supported by the corporates of the regional communities the series visits.

Then there are moves to schedule the women's road race at next year's National Championships in Ballarat for early Sunday morning in order to maximise live TV coverage prior to the men's road race on the same day.

Whether those plans come off, well watch this space!

For years women's cycling has been dismissed as the very poor cousin to a male dominated sport which garners worldwide interest. If tennis, golf, soccer (to name a few) can enjoy equality on a worldwide scale, then why can't cycling?

Bravo to ASO for leading by example. Bravo to the UCI for endorsing a broadcast of the full women's world cup series in 2014. But let's now ensure the momentum rolls on in Australia, and across the world. Fans, administrators, riders, stakeholders. Get involved. Let's make this happen.