The women's road race at the UCI Road World Championships has certainly whipped up a hornet's nest online while several opinion pieces has kept discussions simmering.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

In the days leading up to the live coverage from Ponferrada, the SBS commentary team was genuinely excited at bringing the elite women's event to Australian television screens.

By inviting Olivia Gollan and Henk Vogels onto the panel to share their expert opinion, experience and vast knowledge, we were satisfied the balance was right.

After all how can you discredit the views of two Olympians, former national champions and ex-riders who have represented Australia at World Championship level up to a dozen times between them. They know what they're talking about.

From a broadcasting point of view (and a fan), here was an opportunity to raise the profile of the women's side of the sport - to showcase everything that's good about women racing fast and hard on two wheels and to ensure viewers are gripped by the images of a sport that struggles to gain worldwide respect and exposure.

Would it be wrong for me to admit that none of the above criteria was met in any way last weekend?

I appreciate the fact the tactics involved in women's road racing is entirely different to the explosive nature of the men.

And call me ignorant for failing to understand the differences, crucify me for never having raced a bike at elite level, bring me down in flames for having the nerve to criticize women's racing, but the fact of the matter is many viewers went to bed vowing never to return or engage in a women's road race ever again.

Is that what the women want?

The race was what it was, boring, it happens. If that's bad commentary then we're all guilty. So line us up in front of a firing squad and get it over and done with.

Men's road cycling certainly isn't immune from providing the odd yawn-fest. There have been many days down the years when the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia, the Spring Classics have produced the "switch-off" factor, and our commentators have said so.

Can we say goodbye to 250km long sprint stages? Please.

But that's the point, men's cycling is in our faces on a regular basis, so another potentially exciting race is just around the corner.

Wide media access and exposure to women's road cycling is, on the other hand, usually confined to events such as La Course and the World Championships, that's two races every year.

So when they do come around we need them to be entertaining, we need to see action, we need to walk away feeling great about the sport.

And people throw their hands in frustration wondering why the women's
circuit fails to lure the same corporate interest as the men.

SBS has supported women's cycling for many years and nothing would be more satisfying than monitoring the ratings on a Monday morning following a major women's cycling event than to be dazzled by the viewing numbers.

This year's FIFA World Cup, the world's biggest sporting tournament, has been described as the best ever for its quality matches, yet there were several games had me reaching for the No-Doze.

ABC television last Sunday night showed the horrific crash in its news report and nothing else. It failed to mention how the women's road race unfolded, the performances of the Australian riders nor the French winner.

It's another example of how the interest levels of most non-expert viewers extend beyond the pushing of pedals. Sad, but true.

It doesn't make it right, but it's what makes television sport "click" in the modern world.

SBS has vowed to continue to screen live women's road cycling in the future, but convincing the bureaucratic bean-counters in upper management, those who distribute the budgets provided by the tax payer, is going to be a much more difficult exercise.
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SBS loves cycling, whenever possible the network will always screen live women's events. Unlike the commercial networks, SBS is committed. Our only wish is there was more of it.

All we ask is to give us a reason to keep the TV set switched on, and kept on until the early hours of the following day.