The London Olympic road race offers a good example of the importance of video coverage. The women raced in and out of the rain throughout the day, and Marianne Vos outsprinted Lizzie Armitstead for the victory in a downpour. “For people to see women’s racing at that level and see that it is bloody good racing,” she said. “A lot of women’s racing is like that, it just doesn’t get seen. It’s not that it was the only great race that happened, it’s the one that got seen.”
The competitive racing in London is not a magic fix for the sport. It will not solve all the sport’s problems, but it definitely helps. “I think what it demonstrates is the level of the sport, and you have that in your pocket when you to go sell the level of the sport to people from outside the industry,” said Scrymgeour. Prospective sponsors who have heard about or seen the Olympic race will have a better idea of the level the elite women have reached and how competitive the racing can be.
Scrymgeour believes that women need to step up and take responsibility for growing the sport. The sport has grown to this point thanks to men who are cycling fans. Now, women have to take over, she believes. “There are men who have done great things to get our sport to where it is now,” said Scrymgeour. “But now what we have to do is to take over, and give it a big push.”
Tennis, which has rich prize purses and receives significant media attention, offers a potential model for how to grow women’s cycling. “Look what happened in tennis,” Scrymgeour said. “It wasn’t a slow evolution that made tennis something that was seen on television and that becoming a big sport. It was a huge push made by women.”