There was some interesting comment from Joe Lindsey’s Boulder Report blog on bicycling.com. Essentially his point was that the US media struggles to report cycling. Taking the example of a report from the Tour of Algarve, one American report said:
“Tony Martin of Germany won the Tour of the Algarve in Portugal with a strong sprint in the final stage”
Only Tony Martin wrapped up the overall classification after winning the final time trial stage, at no point did he sprint past Contador.
Meanwhile in France
If the American media struggles, don’t imagine it’s perfect in France. A large proportion of the media has given up on the sport to some extent. Establishment newspaper Le Monde went as far as declaring publicising the results invalid since they were determined by pharmaceutical aids, all this whilst the paper was edited by Eric Fottorino, an ex-racing cyclist. Left-leaning Liberation shares a same view. Race results are hard to find although doping scandals do make the front page.
It’s worth noting media rivalry means some have an interest in taking the shine off the Tour de France. The race is run by ASO, part of the same corporate empire as sports daily L’Equipe. After all the race was created to sell copies of L’Equipe’s predecessor and rivals don’t want to give the event too much publicity.
But it’s not a policy of reluctance, sometimes the reporting just isn’t great. Not to single anyone out but only on Monday we saw regional newspaper Le Télégramme claiming that the modest Bretagne-Schuller team could still qualify for the Tour de France, given that Vacansoleil was in trouble. Believe the newspaper and a good showing in Paris-Nice and the team would be close to an invite. But as I wrote on the same day, excluding the team is almost impossible under the UCI’s rules, it would take revelations of team-wide complicity in Riccò’s blood transfusions to exclude the team. Even if the team vanished, it’s wishful thinking to imagine Bretagne-Schuller as the hot favourite. Just as Tony Martin “sprints” to victory, so a tiny team is close to get an invited for the Tour de France.
There are some good exceptions, L’Equipe for example has some great reports and articles by Philippe Bouvet and Philippe Brunel are often a pleasure to read. The biggest selling newspapers in France are the regional press, and the likes of Jean-Francois Quénet and others can often bring plenty of news.
Coverage of cycling is often good in France but its not like every newspaper and media outlet gets it right, don’t assume that everyone in France understands le vélo. Sometimes it’s not a cultural problem of not knowing the difference between sprinting and time trialling, it’s a question of economics: many papers don’t have a full time cycling reporter, junior staff are tasked with copying the news wires.