I was lucky enough to interview the amazing Emma Pooley! This is a transcript of what will go up as a podcast - so keep an eye out!
An hour into the low-budget, high-impact documentary, Union Cycliste International president Brian Cookson claims that a women’s Tour de France “would be devastation” because, “frankly, women are weaker.” Yet it appears he’s an improvement over former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who advocated women be banned from racing while menstruating. Bertine’s occasionally dry film makes rare space for female cyclists to convey themselves with the seriousness and urgency they embody when they race.
Their arguments slowly accumulate into an enraging portrait of entrenched sexism in competitive sports that proves parity is worth fighting for."
Many women’s cycling supporters wish there was more media coverage out there. What are your thoughts on how to develop that side of the sport?
In any other sport the media caters to the athlete because they are well known or the sport itself is well known. But with cycling, I don’t think the media has truly has any idea what to do with us on a global level. One of the things we need to do, and I hope that the film helped in this, is that we need to show that these racers have personalities, that they have lives that are interesting on the bike as well as off. Once the media gets a whiff of the fascinating aspects in cycling, then I think that dynamic will change. Emma Pooley is a great example. She’s smart, funny and passionate. Also, I think that as female athletes, we need to celebrate each other as well. It’s one thing to be in competition and rip each other’s legs off, but when we’re off the bike we should elevate our sport by speaking highly of our competitors. We need to create fun dynamics, positive rivalries and really celebrate the attributes of our fellow racers."
Tell you VA friends (and have your DC buds take a road trip!). @HalfTheRoad screens next on Sat Mar 1st, 10am, Byrd Theater, Richmond, VA.— Kathryn Bertine (@KathrynBertine) February 4, 2014
Know anyone in VA? Go and stay with them and take them with you to the Half The Road women’s cycling film!
Bertine outlines what she believes are the most important things in year one. “Securing media and sponsorship will be the key factors, and of course, the fans of cycling can play an enormous role by supporting this year’s La Course race.
“Click on the links, watch the news programs, talk about the incredible change taking place…this is something we can all do to drive change. If we create the demand, opportunity and business potential for women’s pro cycling the thrive, then ASO will continue to see the value.”"
“We see this as a stepping stone toward a women’s Tour,” she told VeloNation, making clear that the long term ambition remains the same. “With the 2014 Tour de France less than six months away, we understand time is an issue and we’re grateful for the opportunity to make history this year with a one-day event.
“This race is a perfect launching pad to build upon in the years to come [as regards a multi-day womens’s Tour de France]. It’s important because female athletes need high profile stages on which to compete, with the associated media coverage and sponsorship, to truly enable them to shine. Le Tour is just that stage.”"
She believes this month’s UCI presidential election will play a “huge role” and insisted that should Brian Cookson defeat the incumbent Pat McQuaid it would be a catalyst for change.
Bertine added: “We have to elevate all of women’s cycling so it is sustainable. It’s about having a Tour de Everything, all the opportunities that the men have as well.
"Right now, we need change. We believe that Brian Cookson, in his manifesto, presents an opportunity for women’s cycling to move forward.
"If Pat McQuaid wins [a third term], my biggest fear is that nothing will happen.""