Van Vleuten: Amstel proved it's a mistake for Fleche, Liege not to have live TV
Dutch rider expresses disappointment at inconsistency surrounding women's racing
Mitchelton-Scott's Annemiek van Vleuten has spoken out about her disappointment that neither the women's version of Flèche Wallonne nor the upcoming Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes provide any live TV or live-streamed coverage, while last week's Amstel Gold did.
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Speaking on Eurosport's The Bradley Wiggins Show podcast, the Dutchwoman said that she was very happy that the organisation behind her home race, Amstel, provided viewers with live coverage of what was an exciting race.
"We proved [at Amstel] that we should be on television, and that it's exciting to watch – and that people are otherwise missing something, as a lot of people want to watch the women's racing," she said.
Both Van Vleuten and her compatriot Anna van der Breggen (Boels Dolmans) expressed their disappointment that neither Flèche nor Liège were providing live TV coverage or live-streamed internet coverage.
"I think Amstel proved that it's a mistake by the other organisers not to provide it for their women's races," Van Vleuten said. "It's nice that they organise the races really well, but they should also at least have a live-stream so that people can follow them.
"It makes me very sad that the next race is not going to have coverage," she said ahead of Wednesday's Fleche, "but shout out to the Amstel Gold Race – they had a really awesome stream and live TV coverage."
Asked about the direction she felt women's cycling needed to take going forward, Van Vleuten told the show that she thought women's versions of the most famous men's races had really helped the popularity of women's racing.
"It would also be nice to have a Paris-Roubaix for women next year," she said, echoing the opinion of many who'd like to see a women's edition of the cobbled Classic, nicknamed 'The Hell of the North'.
"It would be epic to have all the guys' races organised for us, and things are already improving. Amstel Gold has really shown that having both a men's and women's version of the race can really add something to each other," she said.
"I also felt at the Amstel teams presentation that a lot of the audience were not only there for the men who were racing, but for the women's race, specifically. And people watching on the Cauberg and on the side of the road had double the entertainment, because we also raced there. So I think this formula works super-well and can hopefully be a role model for other races.
"It's not that we have to copy the men's races," Van Vleuten added. "It's just very nice to have the Monuments organised for women. You have a women's version of the Tour of Flanders, for example, and you don't need to explain what kind of race you're racing.
"It's also good to have standalone women's races. The OVO Energy Women's Tour is a really good example: they organise an awesome race, with live TV coverage, and a lot of spectators come specifically for women's cycling. So it doesn't always need to be on the same day.
"And live TV coverage of every race is needed," Van Vleuten said. "It's ridiculous that for the next two WorldTour races, there's no live TV coverage. That's something we need to improve."
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