Australian champion Gracie Elvin is one of two Canberrans in contention for the Commonwealth Games road race. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
La Course provided the perfect stage for women's cycling to showcase itself, but Canberra's Gracie Elvin believes the women need to create their own identity rather than piggy-backing off men's cycling.
Elvin is part of Australia's Commonwealth Games road team and she believes fellow Canberran Chloe Hosking is one of the favourites to win a gold medal in the road race in Glasgow on Sunday.
They both rode in La Course last Sunday – a one-day women's race held before the final stage of the Tour de France in Paris – where they peddled up and down the famous Champs-Elysees just hours before the men's peloton arrived, with Hosking finishing 20th and Elvin 72nd.
Canberra's Chloe Hosking. Photo: Jay Cronan
It was shown live in more than 140 countries, leveraging off the growing popularity of the Tour to bring greater media exposure to the women.
Elvin, Australia's national women's road champion, said the exposure made it clearly the biggest race on the women's calendar, but she felt using men's cycling wasn't a long-term solution to getting more coverage for the women.
Rather, it was a good way to build momentum for the sport.
"La Course will be a pinnacle event from now on and I think that it will help other races such as the Giro Rosa and some of the spring classics gain better following," she said.
"I think it is important for women's cycling to keep building its own image and identity. We will struggle to get far if we piggy-back off men's cycling.
"As individuals and teams we need to make the most of current resources such as social media to build our fan base and demand for better live coverage of the racing.
"This in turn will encourage sponsors who care primarily about us and not as a sideshow to men's cycling."
Elvin said the road-race course suited both her and Hosking – it wasn't for climbers, but would be a war of attrition with many repetitions of small, steep climbs during the seven laps of the 14-kilometre circuit.
The 25-year-old has built her whole season around the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, before she returns to racing for her Orica-AIS team in Europe.
"Chloe will definitely be one of the favourites for the gold medal as she has a very good sprint finish," Elvin said.
"It would be great to see her on the podium again after her success in the previous Games [winning bronze], but as it is with road racing, we have to be able to make decisions quickly out there and adapt to the situation as a whole team.
"It will be anyone's race."