Brian Cookson outlines his plans to grow women's cycling if elected UCI president

British Cycling president says UK success can provide template for progress at world level

by Simon_MacMichael   July 5, 2013  

Brian Cookson press pic

British Cycling president Brian Cookson says that the governing body’s success in producing talented female cyclists is something he will seek to replicate at global level if elected president of the UCI in September.

Cookson and current UCI president Pat McQuaid were confirmed earlier this week as the only two candidates nominated for the election, which will see 42 delegates vote at the UCI Congress in Florence on 27 September.

On Wednesday evening Cookson, who had been at the opening days of the Tour de France, was in Yorkshire for the Otley Cycle Races, which this year featured a women’s race for the first time.

The winner, Elinor Barker, winner of the junior time trial at the world championships in the Netherlands last September, is a product of the very system that Cookson believes can provide the template for women’s cycling around the world.

The Cardiff born 19-year-old partnered Laura Trott and Dani King to successfully defend Great Britain’s team pursuit world title on the track  in Minsk earlier this year. She also rides alongside them on the road at Wiggle Honda.

“It was fantastic to see so many female riders compete in Otley,” said Cookson.

“British Cycling is working hard to develop women’s racing in Great Britain in a way that provides the sport with a solid, self-sufficient platform from which to develop.

“This is about bringing wholesale change to the calendar and embedding women’s cycling in everything we do as an organisation. 

“It is important to recognise that initiatives such as this are not one-sided and can bring huge advantages to both the organisation and the sport.”

He outlined how he planned to raise the profile of women’s cycling at the top level.

“Increasing the number of events on the race calendar and having men’s and women’s major events running alongside each other provides a wider platform for promoting high-level domestic racing, and better leverage when it comes to negotiating with broadcast companies, sponsors and promoters alike.

“More coverage for the event, brings wider exposure to women’s cycling and in turn better prospects for the future.”                                                                                  

Besides promoting equal opportunities in terms of racing and prize money for senior elite women’s riders, Cookson believes their should be more parity among younger riders looking to progress in the sport.

“It is clear to me that equality should exist between young female riders and their male counterparts and the UCI must to do more to provide greater opportunities for female riders to progress.

“It’s no secret that women’s cycling is the poor relation of the men’s sport, but in Britain we are starting to see the first signs of a recovery and although there is a long way to go, I’m very optimistic that the principles introduced are relevant to a wider, global audience via the UCI.”

While Cookson's comments today are confined to the competitive side of cycling, the body he currently presides over, British Cycling, has commited to get 1 million more women in the UK cycling by 2020, whether for commuting, leisure, or racing.

He says that if he wins September's election and becomes president of the UCI, he is "committed to creating a women’s cycling commission, appoint at least one woman on every UCI Commission, create new events for women riders and guarantee a minimum wage for women pro road riders with modern terms of employment."

 

26 user comments

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Maybe I'm being naive but surely it's possible to run more events side by side? Would be fantastic to see the tdf with both men and women competing,

posted by barongreenback [20 posts]
5th July 2013 - 7:47

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Grand tours side by side is probably on the edge of impossible- hard enough as it is in some places for the organisers to find enough sufficient hotels to accomodate the whole circus. With events like that the primary issue is logistics.

posted by Al__S [489 posts]
5th July 2013 - 8:33

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Is there any reason why the ladies race should not go through the previous day?

posted by Sevenfold [18 posts]
5th July 2013 - 8:48

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Sevenfold wrote:
Is there any reason why the ladies race should not go through the previous day?

sounds like a sensible idea, but the problem then lies with where are the journalists going to be to cover it? Given a choice of double the expense or just covering one of the events I think they would go with the latter.

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [319 posts]
5th July 2013 - 9:03

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I suspect that the grand tours will have to be kept separate, but it would be great to see more one day traces double up.

Talking of the grand tours, why isn't road.cc covering the women's giro?

The main reason I am considering buying from wiggle is its sponsorship of a women's team.

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
5th July 2013 - 9:16

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Al__S wrote:
Grand tours side by side is probably on the edge of impossible- hard enough as it is in some places for the organisers to find enough sufficient hotels to accomodate the whole circus. With events like that the primary issue is logistics.

Agree that you wouldn't be able to run concurrent tours but perhaps making it a requirement of being a World Tour race to have a women's equivalent would work?

Given that women's races are shorter you could always run the women's stages on the middle section of a mens stage so skipping the first and last 40km? That'd mean different start and finish towns and different hotels.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:07

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a.jumper wrote:
I suspect that the grand tours will have to be kept separate, but it would be great to see more one day traces double up.

Talking of the grand tours, why isn't road.cc covering the women's giro?

The main reason I am considering buying from wiggle is its sponsorship of a women's team.

The problem for sites/outlets of a similar size as road.cc is that there is no tv coverage of the women's Giro meaning that, without sending your own reporter/cameraman/photographer which would be hugely expensive, all road.cc can do is replicate the coverage of other sites copying and pasting their results/stage reports.

Without TV coverage only specialist news outlets with the ability to field reporters can provide reliable coverage.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:19

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ajumper / Cyclingnews.com

While it's true that lack of other coverage makes the women's Giro harder to cover, it also offer the opportunity to lead the pack. By dispatching dedicated cover to the race you'd immediately set the trend and raise the stakes for Women's racing cover. Someone has to be first, not everyone can be late and make the grand entry.

Something to consider...

Not so much a six pack as a barrel!

posted by Bigfoz [60 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:29

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Bigfoz wrote:
ajumper / Cyclingnews.com

While it's true that lack of other coverage makes the women's Giro harder to cover, it also offer the opportunity to lead the pack. By dispatching dedicated cover to the race you'd immediately set the trend and raise the stakes for Women's racing cover. Someone has to be first, not everyone can be late and make the grand entry.

Something to consider...

As ever I think it comes down to cost. roac.cc isn't a pro cycling racing news site, it's a consumer site that dabbles in a little bit of race news on the side. Given that the majority of content is consumer focused rather than racing fans focused (a group of readers well covered elsewhere) I don't think it'd be worth the cost for road.cc

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
5th July 2013 - 11:46

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drheaton wrote:
a.jumper wrote:
I suspect that the grand tours will have to be kept separate, but it would be great to see more one day traces double up.

Talking of the grand tours, why isn't road.cc covering the women's giro?

The main reason I am considering buying from wiggle is its sponsorship of a women's team.

The problem for sites/outlets of a similar size as road.cc is that there is no tv coverage of the women's Giro meaning that, without sending your own reporter/cameraman/photographer which would be hugely expensive, all road.cc can do is replicate the coverage of other sites copying and pasting their results/stage reports.

Without TV coverage only specialist news outlets with the ability to field reporters can provide reliable coverage.


Raisport is showing Fifty minutes a day (well it's something). I'll agree it would be impractical for Road.cc to send a team of Journos to the Giro (Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it), but if the profile of Women's cycle sport is to be raised, it has to be done outside of dedicated sport sites. So far Road.cc has not even mentioned that the Giro Rosa is taking place.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th July 2013 - 13:34

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Why would anyone want to televise a women's cycle race ? And to some extent why would they want to write about it on a website or a magazine ?

I'm not trolling - I'm asking you to consider what has to happen.

It goes with the next question, which is, Why would anyone advertise or sponsor coverage of a women's cycle race ?

It costs a lot of money to produce television or run magazines, and a very lot of money to cover a moving race.

Someone has to pay for that and commercial media is paid for by advertisers.

Advertisers plan campaigns by working out how much of their target audience is going to be viewing/reading (Reach) and how much (Frequency). Then they work out Coverage i.e. for different levels of advertising, how many times will the person they are trying to target see their advertisement.

The problem for women's cycling (and women's sport in general) is that women mostly aren't that interested in it, with a few exceptions.

So the available audience for a women's event is mostly men. Now if I'm an advertiser looking to reach those men I know I am going to get my target more quickly and in larger numbers by advertising around men's cycling events.

I would be interested to know for road.cc for example what their viewer profile was, and also how many page views articles about women's cycling got, with demographics.

To provide an economic basis for media coverage you need to have either:
a) women watch/read about women's cycling and provide a different audience, OR;
b) men watch/read about it in significant numbers.

I applaud Cookson's ambition but with races in trouble and sponsors wary or cutting back it won't be a simple task or one that can be achieved quickly. It certainly isn't just a matter of demanding equal time, equal coverage or equal pay.
It needs a whole marketing campaign over a sustained period of time and I'm not sure the UCI is capable of it, even under new management.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:21

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What is it about cycling that people who follow the sport from their armchairs, and Twitter have opinions on how it should work and act like we're best placed to advise with our own theories, regards the Tour, pretty impossible, ever been to it? They can't function hand in hand, now i'm not sexist but Cookson saying:

“It’s no secret that women’s cycling is the poor relation of the men’s sport",

I'm sorry but the fact is (outside tennis) women's sport is a poor relation of mens sport and i'm sorry this may annoy people but its for reasons outside our control, its Darwin and the human form its a nature thing.

Call me sexist but can anyone who's posted their thoughts on how to run cycling name a female football player on the English team? Can anyone name a female player on the womens rugby team? Can anyone explain why there are no female F1 drivers....... it's the laws of nature.

Sports fans who are not interested in watching Division 1 football for the same reason are not interested in watching womens football, it's not the pinnacle, they're not the fastest etc so it doesn't get the media attention and therefor the following.

Female athletes are amazing in their own right but potential ideas like making it obligatory for a UCI ProTour team to have a womens team might actually scare sponsors away.

And Cookson, who's on the board of Team Sky, can he explain why there is no UCI Team Sky pro womens team like Orica-GreenEDGE??? Sparks of hypocrisy........

Luke

posted by roadie2013 [4 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:21

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Couldnt' agree more,

Lets ask Cycle Sport and Cycling Weekly what % of their subscription base are women,..... it's a hard sell in my opinion.

posted by roadie2013 [4 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:23

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roadie2013 wrote:
What is it about cycling that people who follow the sport from their armchairs, and Twitter have opinions on how it should work and act like we're best placed to advise with our own theories, regards the Tour, pretty impossible, ever been to it? They can't function hand in hand, now i'm not sexist but Cookson saying:

“It’s no secret that women’s cycling is the poor relation of the men’s sport",

I'm sorry but the fact is (outside tennis) women's sport is a poor relation of mens sport and i'm sorry this may annoy people but its for reasons outside our control, its Darwin and the human form its a nature thing.

Call me sexist but can anyone who's posted their thoughts on how to run cycling name a female football player on the English team? Can anyone name a female player on the womens rugby team? Can anyone explain why there are no female F1 drivers....... it's the laws of nature. Luke


Can you explain which "laws of nature" prevent women from driving in F1? Perhaps you imagine the drivers have to park the cars and this disqualifies women. Call you sexist? OK then. You're a sexist.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:39

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Realise the nature thing is irrelevant to F1 driving, meant other sports - so apologies for that, mentioned F1 as there has been debate into ruling because of a US driver Danica Patrick who they were mooting for F1 but she didn't make the grade. I shouldn't have brought Motorsport into it for which I apologise, but when you look at things from a slightly subjective perspective there are reasons why womens sport for the most part is not on a level with mens, - performances, audience, media etc,

Sorry Rumpo Kid. I'm not someone who is sexist, you brought in the parking analogy, i'm a male who can't parallel park myself. Shouldn't have mentioned F1.

posted by roadie2013 [4 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:51

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abudhabiChris wrote:
Why would anyone want to televise a women's cycle race ?

If you remove the word "women's" you have exactly the attitude of thirty years ago. Think about it.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th July 2013 - 14:59

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Yes and it took a long time for cycling to gain popularity to the point where it got more media coverage.

Look at the last point I made - that it will take a long time and some serious marketing for women's cycling to get any decent coverage.

If we're talking about 30 years for women's cycling to be near par with men's then I agree.

If we're talking about a near future with sponsors, advertisers, broadcasters etc doing it out of their deep sense of equality, then keep dreaming.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
5th July 2013 - 15:04

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roadie2013 wrote:
Realise the nature thing is irrelevant to F1 driving, meant other sports - so apologies for that, mentioned F1 as there has been debate into ruling because of a US driver Danica Patrick who they were mooting for F1 but she didn't make the grade. I shouldn't have brought Motorsport into it for which I apologise, but when you look at things from a slightly subjective perspective there are reasons why womens sport for the most part is not on a level with mens, - performances, audience, media etc,

Sorry Rumpo Kid. I'm not someone who is sexist, you brought in the parking analogy, i'm a male who can't parallel park myself. Shouldn't have mentioned F1.


Apology accepted. This is an issue I find really annoying, and sometimes my usual good manners desert me. I know Women's cycling sport is "niche" but I'm old enough to remember when Men's cycling was ignored by TV in this country for the same reason. As to performance, in my opinion Women racing Women can be just as exciting as Men racing Men.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
5th July 2013 - 15:08

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Just watched the RAI TV replay of the " GiroRosa " , after seeing the TDF on TV !
GUESS which i will be on site watching tomorrow !

At 67yo , still got an eye for a curvaceous Bod !

The Girls fill their uniforms , in ways the guys lack and do it in style !

Whilst some were glued to TV of boys in Lycra in france , i saw both that and LIVE Girls showing Guts & Determination ! Don't have to fight the Cops for use of the roads either !

Message to OUR SPONSORS !

Guess WHO spends the Family Income ?
clue !
The Guys may earn it but WHO decides HOW TO SPEND IT ?

BTW , there are more women than men , AND YOU don't think about THEIR SPORTS ?

Get a LIFE , guys , OR LOOK FOR NEW JOB OPs !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [378 posts]
5th July 2013 - 21:15

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skippy wrote:

Guess WHO spends the Family Income ?
clue !
The Guys may earn it but WHO decides HOW TO SPEND IT ?

BTW , there are more women than men , AND YOU don't think about THEIR SPORTS ?

Get a LIFE , guys , OR LOOK FOR NEW JOB OPs !

Thanks for the advice but as I'm already the CEO of a TV ratings agency I have possibly a better understanding of how this stuff works.

Out of interest, how many people watched today's Eurosport coverage of Ottley GP, including the women's race ?

If you have an eye for the curvaceous I have to say that Sian Welby was a good choice for presenting. Looks good and did a decent job too.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
6th July 2013 - 11:35

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Any idea how many people turned out to watch the Olympic Women's Road race? And how many more watched on TV? The Giro is a bit bigger than the Ottley GP (no offence), and the only reason it isn't getting enough viewers to warrant the expense of televising it is that it's not on television. TV companies should be doing the numbers and seeing how much money they can make.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
6th July 2013 - 14:08

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Funnily enough those figures don't seem to be publicly available, which makes me think they aren't good.

The men's road race was watched by 5.7m people in the UK at peak. To put that in perspective, Mo Farah got 17 milion and Tom Daley and Jess Ennis about 16 million.

However the point that I am trying to explain to you all is that it isn't primarily about the size of the audience it's about the type.

If you get the same audience type, but in smaller numbers, then it simply isn't worthwhile for sponsors and advertisers.

Say there were only 2 million people watching the women's race - if they were a different demographic to the 5.7m watching the men's race then it could be highly attractive.

So until women i.e. a different type of audience start consuming sport in larger numbers it will be this way. If they aren't interested in sport that's fine, but don't expect commercial companies to fund it.

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posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
7th July 2013 - 7:22

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I see what you're saying about investment but the Giro Rosa footage already exists. Given the general consensus is that no one wants to see it, how much would Raisport want for it? Pay a commentator or two and you have a TV programme for the UK audience (by which I mean a highlights programme, I'm not calling for a TV company to jump in the deep end). If it attracts the same demographic, but in smaller numbers, charge less for commercial time. Do you really think this would give less of a return on investment than the School Athletics Sky showed yesterday?
The Wiggle-Honda team are currently in TV commercials. Rabobank are still happy to have cyclists wearing their logo as long as they are Female. Some people obviously think putting money into Women's cycling is not only good, but good for business.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
7th July 2013 - 14:06

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Found the numbers. The TV audience for the Olympic Women's Road Race was 7.6 million at peak, including 0.8 million watching on BBC3.

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
7th July 2013 - 15:22

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Thanks for the TV Numbers , but as i said i watched the RAI TV programme , several nights , since i was unable to watch it " live" !

Hesitate to tell you your business , but can reveal that there is a PARA Cyclist rACING the ITT route of the " Le Tour " , tomorrow ! Wonder if ANY TV network will BOTHER to show his Efforts ?

Only the Public , Women & Para , DEMANDING Change , will we see any effort made to give these " Groups " the publicity needed to grow their sponsorship base !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

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posted by skippy [378 posts]
9th July 2013 - 20:55

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roadie2013 wrote:
Call me sexist but can anyone who's posted their thoughts on how to run cycling name a female football player on the English team? Can anyone name a female player on the womens rugby team? Can anyone explain why there are no female F1 drivers....... it's the laws of nature.

I was hoping that you'd be made to feel silly for asking that question while the England football team is plastered all over the BBC at the moment, optimistic but regretting losing Sophie Bradley and worried about Kelley Smith, ahead of their Euro's campaign... but I guess everyone here is watching itv's cycling or 5's cricket instead of the BBC!

I couldn't name ANY rugby players except that Wilkinson chap and some others from years ago and I see someone else has mentioned the would-be F1 driver (another sport I don't follow)...

In short, there is a market for women's sport - maybe not as large as the men's, but surely there should be enough to fill one of the smaller digital channels with grand tour equivalents other than the Giro Rosa. Credit to Belgium, Holland and Germany for a good selection of stage races, though!

posted by a.jumper [681 posts]
12th July 2013 - 18:29

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