On the 2014 Para-cycling Track World Championships
I really love track cycling, so I was super-excited that there was a Track Para-cycling World Championships this year, especially after I saw so many of the athletes competing at the Newport Para-Cycling Cup last year. I’ve also been angry about this, because Newport was the first UCI-level track race for the para-cyclists since before the 2012 Paralympics, but sometimes you have to focus on the positives. And it looked really good – two days before the Worlds started in Aguascalientes, in Mexico, on the UCI Worlds portal there was a u-stream link to live coverage from 2012, and an empty link to “live broadcast”. It looked really hopeful, and I was delighted – if there’s one thing I want more of in my life, it’s tandem sprinting and track racing.
Then the competition started, and the “live broadcast” link disappeared, and I meditated on managing expectations, and took solace in the fact that the riders were saying there were cameras in the Aguascalientes velodrome, and that there were going to be daily highlights on the UCI youtube, as there have been for the able-bodied Track World Cups… and then hope started to fade, as day after day, nothing was added, and today, three days after the competition is over, this is what’s on the UCI youtube (screenshot taken 9:15pm, 16th April 2014)
Here’s that one video, by the way – Sarah Storey winning the C5 category 3km Individual Pursuit:
This is just… I don’t even know where to start. Four days of racing, and the UCI provided 1 video – and there wasn’t even live timing of the event. I was following the competition on the twitter list I made (if you know me by now, you know that’s so often the only way) and there were superb updates from BBC journalist David McDaid, the Cycling Australia Track twitter account and from the cyclists themselves – especially Jody Cundy (before he was struck down with sickness), Clark Rachfel, Greta Neimanas (I especially loved her metaphors and analogies!) and Annina Gallagher. There were loads of other riders tweeting, but those are the ones who took to the stands to update us with timings etc, because they knew there was a demand for it. This was fabulous, and I’m hugely grateful to them all it really upsets me that if they hadn’t have done this, we wouldn’t have had any live news – and track riders like Anna Meares are never in this situation.
It sounded like such good racing too – world records falling and then being smashed again, the return of established riders, and the emergence of new stars, winning at their first ever Worlds, and the first ever women’s World Championship scratch race… So much great stuff – so frustrating we couldn’t get more coverage!
It was especially galling, because in January we had the second round of the 2013/14 able-bodied Track World Cup in the same Aguascalientes velodrome, and we had live timing from the Tissot Timing app and results updated on Tissot, as soon as they were done – and a 3 hour live stream on the UCI youtube that was half live cycling from the final session, and half highlights from previous races. So I know what can be done from the exact same venue.
This is massively disappointing for fans, but I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the riders. They are professional athletes, but it must be hard enough to keep the motivation going when races are so few and far between, let alone when they know the governing body of the sport isn’t supporting them. And we all know about the links between media and sponsorship – how can track riders get financial support to keep themselves going when they can’t show people how they race? It depresses me, and I can’t believe the UCI can get away with such terrible, minimal coverage.
It’s interesting, though, it could be that this will change. I asked UCI president Brian Cookson on twitter for a comment on the UCI’s coverage – and later tonight (probably coincidentally!) he tweeted about the coverage, linking to a page with the results and the one video. He seemed genuinely surprised when Jody Cundy pointed out there wasn’t much, and he promised us he’d look into this – and as Colin Lynch said, maybe he’s been told there’s been more? Maybe there’s more out there and someone’s forgotten to post it (I’m not being sarcastic, that happens) – and it’s great that he’s engaging with us, and maybe we’ll find more goes up tomorrow, and promises for more action in the future? I’d love that!
Update! Cookson got back to us with an answer – here’s to a Worlds with live timing and good coverage next year
— Brian Cookson OBE (@BrianCooksonUCI) April 17, 2014
So what coverage did we have? There was some great stuff, especially for fans of the British riders. Here are some of the things I found:
- Race reports and photos on the British Cycling Para-Worlds portal and their flickr – I know I often criticise British Cycling, but they were fantastic, from the pre-race interviews on their youtube to all the twitter promotion
- Little video reports from the British team on the BBC para-cycling pages – Day 1, Day 2 video and report, Day 3 video and report and Final Day video and report (they might be geo-restricted to the UK, sorry)
- Race reports on the Cycling Australia portal -and as I said, their track twitter was full of updates and photos, with a brilliant tone. Photos on the facebook account for the Para-Cyclones
- Cycling Ireland’s photo gallery - and the news on their website – and their twitter was great, too
- Photos on the Aguascalientes Sports Institute facebook account. (Thanks Cecilia Mayberry!)
- A few more bit and pieces on facebook – the New Zealand paralympic team and the German Para-cycling team
- Full results are on the UCI website.
- Tweets from my twitter list - lots of fun photos, riders are so great!
- Things I found and put on my women’s cycling Tumblr (just the women, obviously!)
I’m going to be collecting any blogs from riders I come across in another post, so if you see anything you’ve liked, please do let me know in the comments, and on twitter, and I’ll put it together next week. And a quick note about my twitter lists. I made this one from the competition startlist, and yeah, it probably took me an hour or two, but I made it while I was watching tv and doing other things. It always strikes me that this is a really simple tool to help people follow racing, and I know from the RTs it gets etc that people like it. If I can do this, alongside everything else I do, can’t the UCI do things like this? I would love to do it for them, it’s so simple….
Video from Colin Lynch of Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal’s qualifying pursuit