Beth yw dyfodol peloton y menywod? (bilingual)


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Y dyddiad heddiw? 25ain o Hydref. Pam fod hwnnw'n bwysig? *gwirio'r calendr*. O ia, cloc yn troi 'nol. Y Gaea' wedi cyrraedd. Unrhywun arall wedi bod yn effro ers gwirion o'r gloch bore 'ma?!


Ond nid 'Daylight Savings End' oedd y rheswm fod y dyddiad yma wedi'i raglennu i'm meddwl. Ers i'r calendr diwygiedig gael ei gyhoeddi, heddiw oedd Super Sunday.


Beth oedd yn rhan o'r arlwy yn wreiddiol? REC ar cymal 21 y Giro d'Italia. Diweddglo copa i'r Col du Tourmalet ar cymal 6 La Vuelta. A Paris-Roubaix yn y gwynt a'r glaw.


Ac roedd yn rhaid i Covid sbwylio'r parti, fel mae o wedi datblygu i fod yn giamstar am wneud. Beth sydd gennym ni ar ol? Ie, cymal 21 o'r Giro a'r cyntaf a'r ail ar yr un amser. Gret. Edrych mlaen. Ond dim Tourmalet yn La Vuelta. Cymal llai heriol na beth a gynlluniwyd. Hen dro. C'est la vie.


Ond y siomedigaeth fwyaf un yw canslo Paris-Roubaix. Efallai'i fod o'n farn ychydig yn amhoblogaidd (yn enwedig i chwi Fflandriaid), ond Paris-Roubaix yw fy hoff ras o'r calendr seiclo.


Felly, gallwch ddychmygu y cyffro pan gyhoeddwyd fod dau Paris-Roubaix am gael ei gynnal ar yr un diwrnod ar Ebrill 12fed. Ras menywod Paris-Roubaix am y tro cyntaf erioed - yn ogystal a ras y dynion, sydd a hanes yn dyddio 'nol i 1896.


Dychmygwch pe baen ni wedi cael y bedair ras heddiw. Giro, Vuelta a 2x Paris-Roubaix. Byddai'n wallgof ac yn ddiwrnod cofiadwy iawn i safonau eistedd ar y soffa.


Ond, dyna fo. Bydd yn rhaid i ni aros tan yr 11eg o Ebrill 2021 am Paris Roubaix Femmes. Bydd hi'n ganrif a chwarter ers y ras gyntaf i'r dynion erbyn hynny.


Hen bryd, ddwedwn i.


Mae'n rhaid bod hwn yn gam sylweddol i'r cyfeiriad cywir o safbwynt peloton y menywod. Mae mwy o rasys yn golygu mwy o sylw, a gwell cyfle i ddal llygaid y noddwyr.


Ond yn y tymor byr, mae Covid yn sicr o gael effaith negyddol ar peloton y menywod. Agnieta Francke, ffrind y blog sydd eisoes wedi ysgrifennu am effaith Covid ar brofiad y peloton (cliciwch yma), sydd eto wedi cytuno i gynnig ei mewnbwn. Mae hi'n bryderus am sgil-effeithiau'r pandemig yn y misoedd nesaf.


"Mi ydw i yn pryderu am yr effaith negyddol ar y gamp, i'r trefnwyr ac i'r timau. Ryden ni eisoes wedi clywed bod noddwyr y timau mawr fel CCC a Mitchelton yn dioddef, ond mae gen i ofn mai dyma grib y rhewfryn yn unig.


"Mae Covid yn cael effaith economaidd aruthrol, a dwi'n rhagweld y bydd cwmniau yn cadw'r pot fydden nhw fodlon defnyddio ar noddi ar gyfer diogelwch ariannol yn y misoedd/blynyddoedd nesaf.


"Dwi'n teimlo bydd gan y timau a'r rasys gyda chyllidebau mawrion yn dod o hyd i ffordd o oroesi neu croesawu noddwyr newydd, gan mai nhw sy'n gallu cynnig yr amlygiad gorau. Ond mi fydd nifer o rasys llai yn dioddef o sgil-effeithiau ariannol o fethu a rhedeg eu rasys eleni a gall hynny effeithio ar tymor nesaf. Bydd llawer o'r timau llai yn dioddef hefyd, gan byddwn i'n dychmygu bydd noddwyr yn cytogi eu cyfraniad, a bydd hi'n anodd dod o hyd i gwmniau sy'n fodlon buddsoddi mewn prosiectau nawdd newydd ar hyn o bryd.


"Gobeithio y byddai'n anghywir, a dwi'n credu'i bod hi'n wych bod 'na rasys mawr wedi cael eu cynnal yn y misoedd diwethaf, ond dwi'n obeithiol y bydd yr UCI yn cefnogi'r rasys llai fel bod y timau llai yn gallu serennu a dangos eu gallu i'w noddwyr."


Ar lefel bersonol, mi rydw i wedi gwylio mwy o seiclo menywod nag erioed yn y misoedd diwethaf, gan ei bod hi mor hawdd ag erioed i wneud hynny gyda GCN Race Pass. Dwi wedi mwynhau dysgu mwy am y gamp, ac mae'n ddiddorol nodi'r gwahaniaethau rhwng rasys dynion a rasys menywod yn enwedig o ran sut maen nhw'n reidio cwrs penodol.


Ac mae wedi dod i'r amlwg fod pob problem o fewn camp y menywod yn deillio o ddiffyg darlledu. Heb ddarlledu, dydi pobl ddim yn gwybod am y rasys. Heb fod pobl yn gwybod am y rasys, does neb yn eu gwylio nhw. Os nad oes neb yn eu gwylio nhw, all y noddwyr ddim a chyfiawnhau'r gost.


Mae Ana'n ategu hyn. "Dwi'n teimlo'i fod o'n gylched ddieflig; heb ddarlledu bydd y noddwyr yn llai parod i fuddsoddi, ac heb fuddsoddiad bydd hi'n anoddach o lawer i rasys i fforddio'r hyn sydd ei angen arnynt i ddarlledu rasys.


"Dwi'n hapus iawn fod yr UCI yn gorfodi rasys lefel WorldTour i ddarparu darllediad byw, achos yn sgil hynny mae cynulleidfa ehangach sy'n sylweddoli bod seiclo menywod yn gyffrous iawn i'w wylio. O ganlyniad, mae cefnogaeth a diddordeb mewn seiclo menywod yn cynyddu, sy'n fy ngwneud i'n obeithiol ein bod ni ar y llwybr cywir."


Dwi wedi gweld hyn ar waith. Mae Jumbo-Visma wedi sefydlu tim ar gyfer 2021, tra bo Boels-Dolmans (noddwyr fyddlon iawn - mwy am hynny yma) hefyd wedi dod o hyd i noddwyr newydd ar gyfer y flwyddyn newydd yn SD Worx.


Daeth y cwmni dillad o Ffrainc Paule Ka i achub tim Bigla-Katusha ym mis Awst, newyddion oedd yn gadarnhaol iawn ar y pryd. Ond daeth i'r amlwg yn reit ddiweddar nad oedden nhw wedi gwneud taliad am dri mis, ac mi aeth y tim i'r wal yn syth. Mi soniodd Ana hefyd wrthai nad oedd Vipeq wedi talu'r swm gofynnol i'w thim hi sef Belori-Vipeq.


Newyddion mawr arall yn ystod y tymor oedd bod y Giro Rosa wedi'i israddio o statws WorldTour. "Wnaeth y Giro ddim dilyn rheol yr UCI am ddarlledu byw, a dim ond 15-20km oedd gan Eurosport/GCN i'w ddarlledu a hynny ar ol i'r ras orffen.


"Mae'r ffaith fod y Giro yn mynd i lawr categori yn fy mhryderu fi. Dwi'n gobeithio bydd sefydliad yn camu i'r her i drefnu ras cymalau 9-10 cymal ar lefel WorldTour, gan mod i'n credu bod y peloton menywod wedi dangos bod y rasys yn hynod ddiddorol a'u bod nhw'n ddigon abl i rasio nifer o ddiwrnodau ar y trot ar lefel uchel."


Daeth y newyddion yn ddiweddar yn ogystal fod trefnwyr Le Tour de France, ASO, yn edrych ar lansio ras fwy i'r menywod erbyn 2022. La Course yw'r ras gyfatebol ar hyn o bryd, sy'n un diwrnod 96km pathetig, ddaeth ar ol y Tour de France menwyod y gwnaeth Nicole Cooke ei ennill ddaeth i ben yn 2009.


Dyfodol cyffrous i peloton y menywod?


"Mae 'na'n bendant rwystrau i'w goresgyn. Mae'r ffaith bod achosion fel timau addawol megis Casa Dorada yn troi'n fflop a'r Giro yn methu a chwrdd a disgwyliadau'r UCI yn dal i ddigwydd yn 2020 yn fy ngwneud i'n drist ac yn flin ar yr un pryd.


"Ond dwi'n hoffi meddwl mai achosion unigol ydi hynny, ac yn gyffredinol fod pethau'n gwella. Dwi'n meddwl fod o'n wych bod llawer o dimau'r dynion yn creu timau menywod, a'n hoffi bod y noddwyr eu hunain yn achub y blaen i greu timau menywod cyfatebol i'r tim dynion maen nhw eisoes yn ei ariannu.


"Dwi'n gobeithio y bydd seiclo menywod yn ddigon mawr a chryf i sefyll ar ei ben ei hun rhyw ddydd, ond cyn hynny dwi'm yn meddwl ei bod hi'n beth drwg bod timau'r menywod yn cymryd mantais o adeiladwaith, gwybodaeth ac amlygiad sydd gan dimau'r dynion eisoes.


"Mae 'na fwy a mwy o fenywod yn dechrau seiclo ac mae sylw i'r peloton proffesiynol yn cynyddu, felly dwi'n credu'i bod hi ond yn naturiol y bydd mwy o gwmniau yn mynegi diddordeb mewn noddi tim neu ras.


"Yn 2020, mae 'na leiafswm cyflog mewn lle ac mae gwobrau ariannol ar gynnydd. Yn y blynyddoedd diwethaf, mae seiclo menywod wedi dod yn llawer mwy proffesiynol. Mae'r offer ac adeiladwaith sydd mewn lle o bryd i'w gilydd yn hafal gyda'r dynion a diolch i'r lleiafswm cyflog mae 'na fwy o fenywod yn gallu rhoi 100% i'r gamp.


"Mae newyddion am seiclo menywod yn llawer haws i'w gyrraedd diolch i'r cyfryngau cymdeithasol, ac mae 'na fwy o seiclo menywod ar y teledu nag erioed.


"Felly, mi ydw i'n meddwl bod 'na ddatblygiadau cadarnhaol iawn ar hyn o bryd, a'n obeithiol iawn y bydd y llwybr yma'n parhau yn y blynyddoedd i ddod. Bydd dim mwy o gnoi ewinedd yn dilyn diweddariadau testun ar Twitter, gan ein bod ni'n gallu gwylio lluniau byw o'r rasys."


Oes, mae 'na ymdeimlad a thema o gymryd dau gam ymlaen ac un cam yn ol, ond dwi'n cytuno gydag Ana bod y dyfodol yn reit ddisglair ar gyfer peloton y menywod.


Diolch iddi am ei hamser.

Today's date? 25th of October. Why is that important? *checks calendar*. Oh yes, clocks go back. Winter has arrived. Anyone else been awake since stupid o'clock this morning?!


But 'Daylight Savings End' wasn't the reason that this date was programmed into my brain. Since the publication of the revised 2020 calendar, today was set to be Super Sunday.


What was originally on the menu? TT on stage 21 of the Giro. Summit finish to Col du Tourmalet on stage 6 of La Vuelta. And Paris-Roubaix in the wind and rain.


Covid had to spoil the party, as it has grown to become an expert at doing. What do we have left? Yes, stage 21 of the Giro with 1st and 2nd on the same time. Great. But no Tourmalet in La Vuelta. A less difficult stage than planned. Ah well. C'est la vie.


But the biggest disappointment of all was the cancellation of Paris-Roubaix. It might be a slightly unpopular opinion especially to those of you who worship de Ronde van Vlaanderen, but Paris-Roubaix is my favourite race on the calendar.


So you can imagine the excitement when it was announced that there was to be two Paris-Roubaix races on the same day on 12th April. A women's edition of Paris-Roubaix for the first time ever - in addition to the male edition which has history dating back to 1896.


Imagine if we had had the four races today. Giro, Vuelta and 2x Paris-Roubaix. It would be bonkers, and certainly memorable as far as sitting on the sofa goes.


But there it is. We'll have to wait until the 11th of April for the Paris-Roubaix Femmes, by which point the male edition will have been raced annually for a century and a quarter.


About time, I'd say.


This must be a positive step forward for women's cycling. More races mean more attention, which leads to an increased chance of catching the sponsors' eyes.


But in the short-term, Covid is definitely going to have an adverse impact on the women's peloton. Agnieta Francke, friend of the blog who has already written about the experience of cycling in the pandemic peloton (click here), who has again offered her insight. She's worried about the impact of Covid in the coming months.


"Yes, I do fear that it will have a negative impact on the sport, both for the organisation of the races and the team side of things. We have already heard that sponsors of big teams like CCC or Mitchelton are struggling, but I'm afraid that this is only the tip of the iceberg.


"Covid is having a huge economical impact, and I'm afraid that many companies who would otherwise dedicate a part of their budget to sponsorship will now choose to keep those funds as a sort of a safety net for the upcoming months and years.


"I feel like the teams and races with the big budgets might have the means to survive or to find new sponsors, since they are the ones that can offer more exposure to their sponsors. But I'm afraid that there will be many smaller races that will struggle with the financial consequences of not being able to organise their race this year which will have an impact of next year's calendar. There may be a lots of smaller teams struggling too as I imagine that some sponsors may lower their contribution next year and that it will be hard to find companies willing to invest in new sponsorship projects at the moment.


"Hopefully I'm wrong, and I think that it's great that there has been a calendar with big races in the past few months, but I do hope that the UCI will help smaller races so that smaller teams can have some success and give the sponsors the attention they deserve and pay for."


On a personal level, I have watched more women's cycling than ever in the past few months, because it is as easy as a couple of taps to access live racing on GCN Race Pass. I've enjoyed learning and understanding more about the women's side of the sport, and it's interesting to note the differences in how the riders ride the same course differently.


It has also become obvious that all problems in the women's peloton derive from a lack of broadcasting. Without broadcasting, people are unaware of the racing. If people are unaware of these races, nobody watches them. If nobody watches them, the sponsors can't possibly justify the investment.


Ana corroborates this. "I feel it's a bit like a vicious cycle; without the broadcasting, sponsors will be less willing to invest in women's cycling, and without the investments it will be harder for races to afford the infrastructure needed to televise races.


"I'm really happy that the UCI obliges the World Tour races to provide live broadcasting of races, because I think as a result women's cycling has become more accessible for a bigger audience and more and more people have realised that the races are super exciting to watch. Because of that, support and interest for women's cycling is growing which makes me hopeful that we are on the right path."


I've seen this in action. Jumbo-Visma have launched a team for 2021, whilst Boels-Dolmans (extremely faithful sponsors - more on that here) have also found sponsors in the form of SD Worx.


French fashion company Paule Ka stepped in to save Bigla-Katusha in August, which seemed like very positive news at the time. But it became obvious quite recently that the new sponsors had failed to pay the necessary amount for three months. Ana also mentioned to me that Vipeq had failed to pay the necessary amounts for her team Belori-Vipeq.


Another big news story this season was the relegation of the Giro Rosa (the longest and most prestigious stage race on the calendar) from WorldTour status. "The Giro didn't comply with the UCI rules this year and didn't offer any live stream, meaning that GCN/Eurosport were only able to show the last 15-20km of the race 'as live' after the end.


"I find the Giro dropping a category is concerning. I hope that another organisation steps up to the challenge organising a serious stage race with at least 9-10 stages at WorldTour level, because I think that the women's peloton has shown that races are very interesting to watch and that they are perfectly capable of racing many days in a row at a very high level."


Tour de France organisers ASO also confirmed they are looking at an improved version of the female Tour. La Course is the current 'equivalent', which is a pathetic 96km one-day race, which came after the female race (won by Nicole Cooke in 2008) that came to an end in 2009.


An exciting future for the women's peloton?


"There are certainly still some big hurdles to overcome. The fact that things like the promising Casa Dorada team turned out to be a big flop and the Giro not living up to the standards of the UCI still happen in 2020 makes me sad and angry at the same time.


"But I like to think that those are individual cases, and that in general things are improving. I think it's a really good development that lots of the men's WT teams are having a women's team too, and I love it that sometimes it's the sponsors themselves that take the initiative to create a women's team alongside the men's team that they already sponsor.


"I hope that one day, women's cycling will be big and strong enough to stand on its own, but until then I think that there's nothing wrong with women's team taking advantage of the infrastructure, knowledge and exposure that the men's teams already have in place.


"More and more women are taking up cycling as a sport and attention for the professional women's peloton is growing. I think it's only natural that more companies will become interested in sponsoring a women's team or race.


"As of 2020, UCI Women's WT teams are required to pay their riders a minimum salary, and prize money is growing. Over the past few years, women's cycling has become much more professional. The equipment and infrastructure in place is, in some cases, equal with the men's. Thanks to the minimum salary, more women can dedicate themselves 100% to the sport.


"Thanks to social media, news about women's cycling has become much easier to access and despite some exceptions, there is more women's cycling on TV than ever.


"I do think some very positive developments are taking place, and I am very hopeful that this path will continue in the years to come, so that it won't be necessary to bite our nails looking at Twitter updates, but rather actually enjoying live images of the races."


Yes, there is a feeling and theme of taking two steps forwards and one step backwards, but I do agree with Ana that there is a brighter future in store for women's cycling.


With thanks again for her time.

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