Interesting question

To which I don’t know the answer.

Following these climbs, the men will head for the heights of the Mount Fuji loop and crest the spectacular Fuji Sanroku climb, before riding through the Fuji Speedway, ascending the gruelling Mount Mikuni and Mikuni Pass loop (which features lactic acid-churning gradients of over 20%). After yet more climbing on the Kagasaka Pass, they will ultimately reach the roads of the Fuji Speedway to contest the much-awaited finale.

Yet after their initial two climbs, the women will have to make do with a paltry one and a half laps of the speedway circuit before rolling over the finish line. Their route somehow completely bypasses the most spectacular and potentially race-defining elements that are present in the men’s course.

There are differences between male and female physiques. This is why we have male and female sporting events.

But how different is different? Are women not going to be able to complete a male road race course? Or is it just some outmoded paternalism?

I really don’t know the answer here – inform me.

Hmm, obviously, some women coul finish a male course. But would it be too taxing, so that it wouldn’t in fact be much of a race? That might be a better question.

16 thoughts on “Interesting question”

  1. Don’t know either- but it’s not very good journalism to not let us know what the people who designed the course it say. We just get op-ed campaigning, this is what i think stuff.

    “The sheer notoriety of the Olympic games,…”

    Unusual to use it in the purely well-known sense without the infamous connotation. Don’t think its wrong or at least that was its original meaning which then picked up the negative part later.

  2. What would be interesting to know is the estimated duration of the men’s vs women’s races. If they’re about the same, then fair enough. If the women’s is significantly shorter, then why?

    There’s no doubt that a woman could do the men’s course – it’s the speed at which they could do it that’s the factor. 99% of able bodied people can drag themselves round a marathon course.

    I have much less sympathy for women complaining about the lack of equality in professional cycling, the Tour de France for example. Men have spend 100 years building that race into what it is and now women expect to be given an equal share of that just for turning up. They should organise their own races and generate the public interest and commercial aspects the way the men have.

  3. Muscles accumulate lactic acid when the demand for energy exceeds oxygen supply. It’s something you only want to do in short bursts like the 100m sprint as lactic acidosis is very nasty. Training improves oxygen uptake in the muscles so that oxidised glucose or ketones provide all the energy needed over a longer event like a bike tour. Men develop larger muscles to propel themselves up gradients due to testosterone and have a mechanical advantage at applying the force generated by these muscles because their pelvises aren’t adapted for childbearing. MTF trannies retain these advantages so should be confined to the male event.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    As always from the left a whinge fest that is short on real world solutions.

    There’s a number of options that I can see:

    1. Have a long and short course and let teams enter both. Probably not the solution they are looking at as women will be crowded out.

    2. Have an open, longer event, and a closed shorter event for women. They do this at Bridge tournaments but it requires feminists to accept that women, in general, are weaker. In Bridge it’s because most women don’t like the aggressive bidding tactics of men.

    3. Have a long and a short course but mixed teams. They’re having mixed sailing events at the next Olympics so it’s within the Olympic rules, if not original spirit. Obviously this won’t work for individual events, so they’re stuck with option 2.

    One of the round the world sailing events allows teams to be male, female or mixed. All female teams are larger than mixed which are larger than all men. Again that requires an acceptance of women being, on average, weaker than men.

    Whatever the solution it will always be an acknowledgment that men and women are different, which is probably why they never put forward solutions.

  5. Pro cycling is one of the most hard-nosed sports. If women were anywhere close to men there would have been mixed sex races before now.

  6. In Bridge it’s because most women don’t like the aggressive bidding tactics of men.

    As in Chess, there are a very small number of women able to compete at the highest levels of Bridge, and they do. But 99% of world-class players are men.

    There are mixed pairs events, but like mixed doubles in tennis, they’re treated as a bit of light relief from the serious stuff.

  7. I don’t know about this specific course, but the UCI regulates the length of stages on bike racing. For men the average maximum is 180km, and for women 140km (may be a bit dated, I remember it being raised for women in 2016 as performance had improved).

    I don’t know how they handle gradients. This may be the specific reason that part of the course is avoided.

    I haven’t been able to find stages times for pros with a quick google. But I did find a paper, again a bit dated, that suggests women are about 20% slower than men over equivalent stage races because they cannot sustain the same level of power.

    So the distances look about ‘fair’.

    Now you can take the view that in running, women and men run a marathon, not 2hrs 15mins. But when the racing involves huge organisation on public roads it becomes clear why duration is a better bet.

    Perhaps there is a valid charge that lazy course designers just tend to omit the most interesting/challenging parts of the course, but that’s a bit more subjective and there may be practical constraints, especially for races that loop back to finish near their start. But I’m more sympathetic to that idea.

    As usual, a lot of whining muddled with some interesting points.

  8. This is a subject I know something about being an ex racing cyclist.
    Anyone who saw the two events in the Ride Lodon race a couple of weeks back would have seen a road race for the men and a criterium (round the houses) race for the women both had the same prize money ?, the womens race was so drab that there were hardly any spectators round the course watching, but both events counted on the World Tour.
    If you put the women on Alpe d’Huez the worst of them would be so far behind as to make a mockery of equality in sport so they don’t plus quite simply they cannot attract the backers like the men can, it’s a pro sport so no favours should be given in the quest for equality , if you can’t get the sponsors you don’t get the event, the TDF is not a cheap event to put on, and a seperate womens race is not viable as has proved in the past.
    Like womens football not many people would actually pay to watch and don’t.

  9. Having done my first half marathon this year I agree, getting round a course is one thing, doing it in a reasonable time is a wholly different experience

  10. In agreement with Wiggiatlarge …

    On a rather separate topic elsewhere, I wrote that many sportsmen (in that case, but clearly sportswomen here) seem to forget that they are merely hired entertainers.

    If tens of thousands of people are willing to hire you as an entertainer, then you should expect to make more money than people who get hired by tens of people.

    50+% of the people in the world are women. If they all started paying to watch women’s sports then women’s sports would, pretty damn quickly, start paying similar wages and prizes to men’s sports. However, they (by and large) don’t.

    In fact, most women’s sports seem to be treated as a warm-up (and, for most men and a large number of women, a bit of an enjoyable letch) prior to or ancillary to following the men’s equivalent.

    There are some sports which are close to or actually equal between the sexes. Famously, dressage (where it’s the quality of the nag). And Bridge was mentioned (although I note Chris’s denial that women are a significant %age of the top players.) But, as far as viewing figures are concerned, these, frankly, are hardly top 10, possibly not even top 100, sports. Happy to be convinced otherwise.

  11. To clarify, I can’t think of any ‘mind sports’ where women are prevented from competing with men (if they’re good enough). But invariably 99% of the top competitors are men. Chess is the most carefully measured and defined, so it’s easy to check:

    The current strongest woman player in the world, Yifan Hou, has a rating of 2,658 placing her at 88th position on the overall list. She’s nearly 100 points stronger than the next best woman, who would probably be at around 300th place.

    I think it was Bobby Fisher who commented that there was no woman player he couldn’t spot a knight and a castle and still beat.

  12. @ BniC
    What is a “reasonable time” is a subjective judgement. It is one with which you are satisfied, so it is an entirely different criterion from just getting round. For many people just getting round is an achievement.

  13. I welcome the grauniad’s conversion to the cause of abolishing segregated women’s sport! Sports events should all be open to both sexes, purely on talent – not divided by the contents of the participants’ underwear. We don’t have a “100m sprint for whites”, so why do we tolerate a sexist version?

    If I watch a sporting event, I want to see the best of the best; not the best of a very limited selection that couldn’t place in the top 500 of whichever sport it is.

  14. At peak fitness, men have about 8% body fat, women have about 12%.

    Because of that biological difference, men and women should never compete against each other in these types of events.

  15. ‘Stephanie Constand has worked as a press officer for several World Tour cycling teams’

    We need a competitor’s opinion, not a ‘press officer’s.’ A non-competitor complaining about the course. Meh.

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