Women’s cycling fighting for more exposure in male-dominated sport
August 15, 2018
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
In ski racing, track and field and other Olympic sports, women have attracted something approaching equality with the men in exposure. In soccer, the U.S. women’s national team might actually have more name recognition than the men’s. So why is it so much harder for women in cycling to get their share of exposure?
That’s what Rally Cycling rider Abby Mickey would like to know.
“I think our races are more exciting, they’re shorter, the tactics are completely different,” said Mickey, who will be racing the next four days in the second Colorado Classic. “And honestly, who would you rather see in Spandex?”
Mickey was born and raised in Aspen, and Olympic ski racer Wiley Maple is her cousin. His teammates on the U.S. men’s team don’t get near the attention that comes to Mikaela Shiffrin and Lindsey Vonn, but in cycling, women have fewer races and are seldom on television
“There’s a lot of money in men’s cycling, and that’s why they continue to grow and continue to have such incredible races,” said Mickey, who finished third in the Colorado Classic last year. “The women in the sport are very, very smart. Most of them have graduated from college, they’re all really good at social media. By putting money into a women’s pro cycling team, you get a lot out of it. A women’s team can run on a quarter of the budget of the men’s, if not less.”
The high-profile Amgen Tour of California this season had seven stages for the men and three for the women. The Tour of Utah no longer has women’s races. Last year’s Colorado Classic had four men’s stages but only two for the women. This year there are four stages for both genders, and on three of the four days they will race on the same course, although the women will be racing shorter distances.
On Saturday, though, the men will race 100 miles from Denver’s RiNo district to Lookout Mountain, Red Rocks, Evergreen, Conifer, Indian Hills and Kittredge before heading back downtown. The women will race a timed criterium around the Velorama in RiNo that will take about an hour.
“In a perfect world, we’d have a big climbing stage like that and a longer circuit, but the ability to showcase a really fast, exciting hour of women’s racing here in Velorama is a great opportunity,” said Sean Petty, the women’s race director who spent 20 years at USA Cycling including seven years as its CEO. “We have a great product, exciting racing, great athletes. They’re certainly willing and able to do the big climbs, and a lot of them.”
Mickey believes getting women’s cycling more TV exposure is what the sport needs to grow.
“I think I see more women out on bikes than men,” Mickey said. “The recreational side of women’s cycling is growing exponentially. It’s a huge market that’s virtually untapped at the moment.”
Over the next four days, 15 men’s teams will race 245.6 miles and 16 women’s teams will race 79.9 miles. For a detailed Denver Post viewers guide, seeThe Know Outdoors online at dpo.st/viewerguide.
Course highlights:Friday’s time trials will begin at Vail’s Mountain Plaza near the lower terminal of Gondola 1, heading to East Vail and then climbing halfway from East Vail to Vail Pass; Saturday’s men’s “Queen Stage” will head from the RiNo district to Golden, climbing Lookout Mountain and passing through Red Rocks Park en route to Evergreen, Conifer, Deer Creek Canyon, Indian Hills, Kittredge and Dinosaur Ridge before heading back to Rino.