|Women’s pro cycling’s most visible race, known as “La Course,” was recently announced as a single-day event, to be held during the 2018 men’s Tour de France. The response from cycling fans and observers has been predictable, immediate and unenthusiastic – that such a signature event is being reduced to a single day and staged completely in the shadow of the men’s race. The response was particularly pronounced this year, given the recent wave of rising expectations for the sport.
However, it’s time to stop pointing fingers at La Course’s promoter, ASO. Ultimately, the development of women’s cycling is the responsibility of the UCI. And women’s cycling has a great opportunity to start from a clean slate – to build a stronger sport with a unique calendar and priorities which aren’t dependent on a single event. The UCI must start by communicating a meaningful long-term strategy for women’s professional cycling, so that the big race organizers like ASO actually have the incentive to invest more capital in better-supported and promoted events. The athletes themselves are starting to exert pressure on the sport’s stakeholders to make sure this happens, and could be a catalyst for change. The UCI needs to take the lead and listen to its racers, the team and sponsor community, and learn from other successful women’s sports to make the next big move forward for women’s cycling.
Steve Maxwell / Joe Harris
The Outer Line
Boulder, Colorado / Casteau, Belgium
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