Reporting isn’t always that good in France either

Tony Martin
Tony Martin sprints downhill

There was some interesting comment from Joe Lindsey’s Boulder Report blog on 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.

Le Télégramme de Brest

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.

French exceptions
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.

8 thoughts on “Reporting isn’t always that good in France either”

  1. And that kiddies is why you never believe everything you read.

    inrng dood, I can barely keep up with your articles, they fly out so fast; that’s a good thing!

    Here’s one for you. How about why Aussies produce so many “sprinters” and America so many TT/GC guys.
    My guess, we emphasize fitness here in the states, whereas down under prefers to compete.

  2. Starr: Thanks. Several people have asked “how do you write so much” but I reply that it’s 5 minutes to find a photo and type 300 words. Maybe a longer piece takes 10-15 minutes but that’s it. Quick.

    As for the question, that’s hard to answer. Australia has a track school that selects the riders capable of fast endurance events; American riders are more varied, from Farrar to Van Garderen.

  3. I think the problem lies in the fact that in any sort of time-trial based race there is no immediate winner and loser. If a child asks you who won a race and you respond “We don’t know, not everyone has gone yet” you’ll get blank stares. The idea that a race can be run where not everyone starts and stops at the same time is puzzling.

    Time-Trial type racing like rallying and bicycle racing is hard to follow if you are expecting and desire a huge build up to some spectacular finish where the winner edges out the loser by a nose.

    America is very much looking for immediate gratification. They (we) demand an abrupt end to our races. It doesn’t matter how long the race takes in general, (Take the Indy 500, which lasts for hours) but the end needs to come quickly with a clear cut winner and loser.

    As a cycling (and rally) fan I have to turn to the Internet to get my coverage.

  4. As a lad, I was long confused by the American media’s report of Greg LeMond’s first Tour win. I guess it’s easier than explaining time trial starts work, but “must cross the line X seconds earlier” distorts pretty easily. To paraphrase:

    LeMond had to beat Fignon in the final race, not by eight seconds, but by over a minute, thanks to the arcane rules of the sport.

  5. Wow, my recollection is way off. It wasn’t the first, and reports were that he had “beaten” Fignon by the 58 seconds plus however much time separated their starts. Anything to wave the flag, I guess.

  6. Ancker + Champs: I see what you mean. Explaining the concept of the yellow jersey and the overall leader in once sentence is not easy!

    I’ve had some correspondence from guys in France saying they rely on English-speaking media for additional information, a subject I’ll return to later.

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