DOHA, Qatar (VN) — More women’s bike races will be aired on television in 2016 and more fans will follow, says former professional rider and current Wiggle – High5 manager Rochelle Gilmore.
This week, the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) organizer announced it would air the final 35 kilometers of the women’s event alongside the men’s race. Flanders is one of the few races, along with La Flèche Wallonne, that feature men’s and women’s races on the same day.
“The biggest thing moving forward is that more race organizations are putting in effort to have television coverage for their events, which we obviously benefit from,” Gilmore said.
“We just saw the Flanders announcement that the race will be getting some lovely TV coverage, and I’m sure that we’re just going to keep hearing that all throughout 2016, that race organizers and networks are fighting to get women’s racing.”
This year, with the newly announced women’s WorldTour, there is a UCI requirement for the organizer to facilitate some sort of coverage of its race, even if it’s not broadcast live. In 2015, the UCI aired the World Cup races live on the Internet and made packages available to EuroSport to air on TV.
Some races, such as the Netherlands’ Ronde van Drenthe, are already aired live on local television. Big events like the Olympics and the world championships receive international coverage.
“Every women’s race that has had a chance to get in the limelight has been super exciting. Of course, when there’s more and more television, they are going to come across some super boring races, that’s just how it is,” Gilmore said. “At the moment, the opportunities we had at the worlds-level and Olympic-level, we’ve really demonstrated that women’s cycling is interesting.”
The Australian raced through the 2014 season and switched to managing team Wiggle, which includes top stars Giorgia Bronzini and Emma Johansson. In women’s cycling, the top 20 ranked teams receive automatic invitations to the 17 WorldTour races. The UCI created the WorldTour series for 2016 and axed the World Cup designation.
“It’s great we developed a women’s WorldTour and it’s just easier for people to relate to how important it is because there’s a men’s WorldTour,” Gilmore said.
“The status of the women’s WorldTour right now is benefiting many race organizers because that status means they can lure other top teams to come in because it has the weight of the points. Then they can benefit from being able to sell that, with all the top tier teams there, to bring in broadcasters. That in turn benefits us because we need TV exposure for our sponsors.”