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Re: Women´s Cycling Round table
« on: December 15, 2015, 11:49 »
Question 2.
You have been given the keys to the Palace and have and can make 2 changes to Womens´cycling in 1 hour you can make 1 short term change ie to be implemented on the spot and 1 long term change ie to the implemented over the next 3 year to the way the UCI runs Womens cycling/or a change provided by the private sector what would you do?

Cycling Direct Stuart
Immediate change would be to make the UCI Women's Cycling media effective and provide much better coverage for sponsors, teams and riders alike.   There are plenty of us out there who know what can and needs to be done to create that effectiveness but the UCI seems reluctant to use our resources.
Long term change would be to use the UCI global footprint to create proper long term sponsorship within women's cycling by offering proper benefits to potential sponsors.

Stefan Wyman
Based on my experiences of 2015 in the professional end of the sport, I’d immediately change the entry rules to UCI races, especially the lower lever ones, the .2 races.  These races have an essential role in our sport, but they are turning into a very odd circus which lack regulation as the sports develops.  There are too many teams, not enough focus on quality, far too many non-professional teams (Removing the legitimacy of being a UCI team in the first place), and not enough safety controls. 

So my immediate change would be limit the number of club teams in UCI events, and remove national teams from any events from .1 upwards.  We need a sport which fans can relate to.  In Men’s cycling, that’s easy as you have your set of teams, and fans, media and commercial sponsors understand and relate to those participating in the events.   In women’s cycling, you can have 30 plus teams, and the following week, another totally different set of 30 plus teams; it’s no wonder people don’t understand our sport. 

As for a long-term change, I’d like a lot of focus to be put onto the entry requirements for the World Tour.  With a clear balance between declared budget and UCI points being the deciding factor.  Part of this would also require a change in the rules to see points scored by a rider remaining with the team they were scored with to stop the ability to purchase a leading team over one winter.  I feel that everything over the next ten years for women’s cycling needs to be about creating a sustainable sport, with increased media and a vastly increased and more visible fan base.  Teams developing riders and then loosing them after being out-bid, should not loose their reward, which is the points they won. 

I’d make this change as I feel if we can create a sport of true worth, the World Tour license of a team should be the item of value, the same as it is in men’s cycling. These licenses should be the trading commodity, not the rider points. 

Eventually, if the sport can grow and develop in a sustainable fashion, I see no reason why we shouldn’t have a UCI Women’s Cycling President, as well as a Men’s President.  These should both be huge sports, and certainly the combined worth of the two elements will be much bigger than when the role of president was created.  Is it still fair to judge one person on their development of two sports, going in slightly different directions, covering a huge number of disciplines.

Guy Elliot
The short term change I would make is for a far greater degree of coordination of the women's race calendar.  It is impossible for a new race organiser - such as The Women's Tour -  to get a decent slot on the calendar where it can evolve and grow and meanwhile we have some quite poor quality events continuing to exist. We need to be bold enough to get rid of  some of these weaker races from the elite calendar. For example we would have liked to extend The Women's Tour from 5 to 6 days in 2016 but this was not possible due to calendar congestion.  I absolutely accept that the UCI made the right decision to protect the well-established and respected race taking place the week before us so have no problem with their decision but I do feel we should  have fewer, and/or better coordinated, events overall.  I believe this is what the UCI is trying to achieve with its Women's World Tour Calendar where we will see two levels of races developing.  But it is a tremendous frustration to SweetSpot at the moment as we have had to turn away many towns who wanted to host the race at a time when women's racing could do with some longer stage races. 

The long term change I would make is to make it obligatory for World Tour teams to run a professional women's team.  I appreciate that there are arguments for and against forcing change rather than encouraging it but the fact is that there are a considerable number of comparatively well-funded teams bidding for World Tour licences each year. These are typically funded by large corporate organisations, of one sort or another, and it seems inconceivable to me that they can simply ignore women.  If you extrapolate the situation only slightly it is like a major corporation saying they will only employ, or discriminate in favour of,  men.    Women's cycling is now well established but needs a helping hand.  You could start off with fairly modest ambitions and standards and say, for example,  that the minimum budget for each team needs to be 500,000 Euros per annum which is not a mind-blowing amount for a Pro Tour team.  It might mean a slightly smaller budget for male riders - but so what if every team had the same conditions? And I accept that it would not be true equality but I believe that after a while teams would start to develop and expand the budgets of their women's teams to get the best riders and levels of professionalism.  I also believe that the high standards and professionalism of the men's teams filters down to the women - United HealthCare are a great example of where enlightened attitudes make good things possible.

I know you only asked for one long-term action but I would like another.   I would introduce a policy where every major stage race - let's say national tours just to be very simplistic in this interview - would be obliged to organise a high quality women's stage race (with broadly similar levels of infrastructure to their men's event) or, if that was totally impractical, create a partnership with an existing women's race and make a substantial contribution in terms of cost or infrastructure to that race.  Again talking very simplistically you would then in one hit have women's stage races (of say five days) of:  Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Netherlands, USA, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, China, Qatar, GB, Norway, Denmark and others.  If those were organised to a high level using the expertise of national stage race organisers you would immediately have a truly elite World Tour calendar with the classics added on.  I don't think we need these massive fields of nearly 200 riders that we see in women's racing.  You could run these events with a super-elite field of 100 riders - to make them truly marketable and keep costs manageable for organisers - some of these races could be Women's World Tour level and some "development" level.  I also think if you created these World Tour "National Tours" you would have something logical and tangible to offer an overall Series Sponsor who could clearly understand what he was getting - a series of the very best national races from all over the world organised to a high level - and each country would have a pretty good value proposition for national sponsors.  The elite 100 would ride each major tour with wild card invitations going out to the "second division" developmental teams in the host country.  You could copy football and have two relegations and promotions a year so the focus would be on the top and bottom.  I believe all of this is achievable with the right commitment and, importantly, a level of investment in terms of cost and the political will to take some tough decisions.  I know it needs to be properly thought through but this is where my thoughts currently lie.

Yolanda Álvarez
Short term: televising all important races, not accepting organizers which do not give decent and up-to-date informations via social media and web page. Minimum wage and equal prize money.

Long term: all men's pro teams to have a women's pro team. Cycling schools to get more promotion and funds so that more young girls get involved in the sport.

Karl Lima
Change 1: Prohibit Mix Teams, that often destroy the races, and definitely add a big touch of amateurism to women cycling. If a team cannot afford to go to a race, they shouldnt be able to get a win by placing their best rider for free into a club team or similar.
Change 2: All World Tour Teams need to have a womens team, and all the World Tours have to show at least the last hour of the womens races instead of showing men eating bars and smiling of mickey mouse breaks that can never succeed :-)

.On a quick wins, requiring national bodies to use their allocation of places at World Championships would be an obvious one. Or providing simple website templates for races to use and publish press releases and results within a reasonable time frame after the conclusion of races would be a great starting point.

Longer term goals are tough as the women's side of the sport especially seems to be progressing so fast right now. A raising of the maximum length of races, not necessarily in their stage length but number of stages could be a great step. Three weeks for a Grand Tour is probably excessive but having more stage races that are longer than a week (or at least having the option) allows a greater story to be told of the races and the contenders as the race unfolds.

Sarah Connolly
Short-term is improve communication.  Ask stakeholders (riders, teams, races, media, fans etc) what they want, and get more staff in place to implement it.  I suspect the comms issue is linked to not having enough staff on it, and there are some fantastic things they do (thinking of how the CX and MTB twitters engage, eg) but it needs to be a key priority - if you're doing the best work in the world, what does it matter if no one knows about it?  I'd definitely include making sure teams know about new races ASAP as that doesn't seem to happen.

Long term (and they might already be doing this) - more television/internet streaming for races.  And make it mainstream/easy to find.

Suze Clemitson
Immediately - root out all the bad coaches and directeur sportifs and team bosses: the ones who see their team as a sexual smorgasbord, or who are using the women's sport as a way into the men's sport. As a longer term change I'd like to see all the Classics offering a women's race. A women's Paris-Roubaix, for example, would be an incredible showcase for women riders - for their toughness, their competitiveness and for the beauty of the women's sport in an easily digestible, TV and audience friendly chunk.

Jessi Braverman
Without a doubt, the long-term change I would make would be increased television coverage and/or other sources of live (unblocked) streams of women’s race. I likely wouldn’t have said this with such conviction before the last year, but it’s becoming abundantly clear that live broadcast is a clear path toward measurable change that paths the way for change in other areas.

Assuming I have to be realistic in terms of the short-term change (ie. that it’s change that, in theory, could happen on the spot), the immediate change I would make would be to eliminate podium girls (both at the men’s races and the women’s race). This would be symbolic change more than anything but demonstrates that our governing body and race organisations understand the message they send by using women as on-stage accessories and would prefer to send the opposite message.

In the words of Julie Leth, who I just spoke with about this very issue: “How can we expect people to take us seriously when even our governing body does not?”
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  • « Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 11:02 by just some guy »
    Of course, if this turns out someday to be the industry standard integrated handlebar-computer-braking solution then I'll eat my kevlar-reinforced aerodynamic hat.

    Larri Nov 12, 2014


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