It was a great weekend of cycling as both World Champions won the notoriously difficult Tour of Flanders race.
Sagan’s ride was a thing of beauty, after leaving Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke on the Paterberg; the Slovakian didn’t look back and won Flanders as the World Champion for the first time since Tom Boonen did it in 2006.
The women’s race wasn’t as clear cut as the Sagan’s victory, it took a photo finish to determine who won, as Armitstead just pipped her Wiggle High5 rival Johansson to the line and in the process retook the lead in the women’s WorldTour. And once again showed that she is the women to beat this year.
Next step for Women’s Tour of Flanders is it own coverage
Women’s cycling has been revamped this year, and so far it is proving to be a success, more races and more importantly tougher races for the women’s elite is showing the world that women’s cycling is just as exciting as the men’s.
And having Flanders on the same day as the men was also another feat; but you just get the feeling to make this event even more spectacular the women’s has to have its own coverage.
Now if you watched the men’s race unfold on Eurosport you would have noticed they were dipping in and out of the women’s race, and when the race was coming to its conclusion they showed live coverage of the finish – but it can’t stop there. It has to go bigger and better.
The next logical step is for a separate show, showing the full women’s race – that’s where it has got to head.
A couple of weeks ago a story broke about how Novak Djokovic suggested male tennis stars should get more prize money than their female counterparts.
I’m not going to get into equal prize money for female and male cyclist’s today, but I’m all for equality in sport. And having a separate broadcast for big women races would do women’s cycling in particular, a world of good.
Five years ago, women’s cycling was nowhere near as popular as it is today; that is largely thanks to superstar riders such as Marianne Vos and Armitstead amongst others.
But it is also down to more sponsorship, and a term that Wiggle High5’s team manager Rochelle Gilmore coined to me in a recent interview, was that the sport has become ‘more professional.’
But to further the sport and get women rider’s the coverage and exposure they deserve, more of the big races have to be televised.
I hope next year the Flanders organiser’s will look at the success of this year and think it can go one step bigger; and the way it will go bigger if the women had their own moment in the spotlight with a full dedicated coverage just for them.
I’m going to continue to bang the drum of women’s cycling, because it’s a sport that could seriously take off and assert itself as a sport that many people want to watch and enjoy all over the world.