That big bike race in Europe this week….no, the other one

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The biggest international bike race of the year is happening right now.

No, I don’t mean the Tour de France. I mean the Giro Donne.

Never heard of it? You’re not alone.

My friend Heidi Guenin, who follows these things, is mad as hell. At same time as the major international men’s race of the year, the Tour de France, is playing on every microbrewery television in Portland, the analogous race for women has been getting, once again, almost zero coverage.

She sent me a long email about it. Here’s a lightly edited version for your indignant pleasure:

All of the places in town that are showing the Tour de France are paying extra to have access to Versus [the only TV network that carries it]. In chatting with some folks, they said they’d love to be showing the Giro Donne, too (even if they hadn’t heard about it before I mentioned it). But to do that at this point, they’d have to be showing internet clips.

The Giro Donne is filmed and there’s footage available, but it’s pretty damned expensive to get the rights to show it.

Early on in thinking about this, I wondered what could be done about the unavailability of tv coverage from the grassroots level. Now that I realize that NBC owns Versus, I’m not so sure that the sweet letter-writing campaign that I imagined would actually be valuable. They need to get pressure from their affiliates and their advertisers. [Here’s a useful article on that topic (with good comments).]

I became incensed this morning reading through my big RSS feeds. Yes, there were some injuries in the TdF yesterday, and we should talk about them. But also, Carly Hibberd, a 26 year old professional Italian rider, was struck by a car and killed during a training ride. Fucking killed! The big boys got bruised and battered, but a young woman lost her life. Why isn’t that being given at least the same amount of attention in the cycling-oriented media?

For you sports fans out there who don’t need to enjoy your cycling stage races in a bar at 4am, Heidi suggests seeking your Giro Donne coverage here and here and by searching your favorite internet video mega-site.

And for those of you who, like me, are more interested in epic battles and stunning scandals of a more social and economic variety, here’s some background on the gender gap in professional bicycle racing earnings.

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