Cycling stars who miss headlines and support

The news story on a Dutch cycling website on Friday could hardly have had a lower profile, and its obscurity grew when I used internet translator Babelfish to turn it into English.

“AA takes over six racers of for the ziele the gone woman formation Garmin-Cervélo,” it said.

“ had recently the international early product of the passage of Emma Pooley, Elizabeth Armitstead, Sharon Laws and Lucy Martin towards the Dutch formatie.”

Thankfully the Velonation website stepped up, with Pooley telling them via email: “I’m happy to be able to confirm that I’ll be riding for the Dutch team AA Drink in 2012.”

It was the only media outlet to report the signing in English for most of Friday.

As Velonation explains, for the second successive year, the bulk of the Great Britain women’s Olympic road race line-up have been forced to switch teams over the winter because of their employers’ financial difficulties.

Arguably the transfer of a British Olympic silver and world bronze medallist, and the likely move of a five-time track world medallist, is deserving of far larger headlines.

Perhaps comparing it with Mark Cavendish’s switch to Team Sky is a little over the top, especially given Cavendish’s move into the mainstream since winning the world title but – as with the Manx Missile – this is a move that could have an impact on Great Britain medal chances at London 2012.

Italy’s Giorgia Bronzini went one better than Cavendish in Denmark in September, winning her second successive world road title, and said this week that it is time women’s cycling received the money and sponsorship it deserves.

“In Copenhagen I wanted to speak with the president of [world governing body] the UCI to inform him that my jersey was worth just as much as Cavendish’s one,” she said.

Cash is perhaps less of an immediate issue for the GB riders, whose living and training costs at least will be met by UK Sport in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics, but stability and the ability to plan must be at stake for riders who have to play musical teams each winter.

Because of the existence of Team Sky, Great Britain’s men are well provided for. As David Brailsford, the British Cycling performance director and Team Sky principal, has explained regularly, the existence of a men’s professional road team alongside the GB set-up means riders’ support network – fitness and technique training, physio and medical support – can be organised to ensure success both in the major pro events like the Tour de France and at the Olympics. There is no similar dual network for the British women.

Since the end of last season, Australia have copied the Team Sky model with the GreenEdge team featuring many of the country’s male Olympic hopefuls. The crucial difference is that they have a women’s team too, tied in with the Australian Institute of Sport and featuring world time trial champ Judith Arndt, plus a host of young Aussies.

Perhaps if Australia are successful in 2012, both on the roads of Europe and at London 2012, others will follow suit and make sure the world’s top women get more support.

This entry was posted in cycling, olympics, sponsorship, women's sport. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Cycling stars who miss headlines and support

  1. Monty says:

    Maybe you should ask a few people why British Cycling let their women’s road academy wither to nothing this year then sacked coach Simon Cope. After all, when you look at the names that have come through there in the past few years it’s hardly been a failure. Probably cost a rounding error on the price of a men’s pro team budget too. Not that Cope seems to have done too badly: he’s now training American girls for 2016 with team Exergy2012.

  2. Pingback: Highlights from the summer of sport | Martin Gough

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