Twitter is a tool that has revolutionised how we follow women’s cycling. It started with Liz Hatch, the early adopter, and (I think) the first to share race information with fans this way – and damn, we loved it! When HTC sponsored Highroad, and all the team got snazzy phones, we started to see the interactions between riders – and now it’s grown so much that twitter is the first place to go for information, and we can follow all the action as it happens on the road. So part 3 of this little series is on some of the riders I love to follow on twitter – and some tips, at the bottom, for how to use twitter to follow races. And as always, this is just a selection – I’ve already mentioned some of the best in my post on bloggers, and I’ve got plans for others later in this series – but if you think I’ve missed anyone out, be sure to tell me in the comments – or, of course, on twitter!
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg – @yokoteute – Specialized-lululemon
My top twitter star is always Teute. If you’re not following her already, what are you waiting for? She’s as good at the pithy tweeting as she is at sprinting. I love her for the times she tells us she was crying for her mummy on the climbs, or telling us what it was really like in the race, or how much she loves the pain, or when she asks us if we’ve seen a job with the word “bitch” in the job description – or the rare time’s she’s speechless! I’m really going to miss Teutenberg in the peloton when she retires, but I can’t wait to see what she tweets about life off the bike
The rest of Specialized-lululemon
I was looking down my list of riders I wanted to talk about, and it struck me how many of them are from Specialized-lululemon! I really like the way the riders’ different personalities come through – and how they’re always congratulating and joking with each other. They’re all great, for such different reasons – so I reckon you should follow them all!
Marianne Vos – @marianne_vos – Rabobank
Vos isn’t just the world’s greatest cyclist, she’s also a thoroughly nice person to boot. You never hear riders saying a bad word about her, and she comes across as one of the most likeable people around, on her twitter.
One of the things that really shines through is how much she loves riding. When she’s on one of her rare breaks, she posts photos from her riders down the polders, and when she got back from her trip to Bhutan, she was tweeting how happy she was that her brother Anton met her at the airport with her bike, so she could ride home! (Being Vos, of course she tweeted a photo of herself on the front of a rickshaw from that trip!)
She’s also extremely friendly with fans on twitter (all 31,782 of them!). After one World Championships, she tweeted about how disappointed she’d been to get silver, but her fans made her feel like she’d won – she’s always a rider who’ll thank people for their messages and kind words. If you’re not already following her, do it now!
One thing that twitter does is make me convinced I can speak so many more languages than I really can. While I’m sure I can speak fluent racing Dutch (that’s not true) I’m rapidly fooling myself into thinking I understand Italian, too, from following riders. I like the happiness of Italian national champion Giada Borgato and Barbara Guarischi, the insights into the life of double World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, and superstar-of-the-future Elisa Longo Borghini – but what I like best are reading how happy they are for each other’s success, despite being on different teams.
Lizzie Armitstead – @L_ArmiTstead – AA Drink-Leontien.nl
From the moment Armitstead set up her twitter account with a gentle reminder of how to spell her name, I knew it would be a good one to follow! Recently it’s been full of her post-Olympic fun, but it’s always full of her sense of humour and of the ridiculous and, well, everyone should follow it, because Lizzie’s awesome!
I could carry on like this for ages, but probably the best thing for you to do is to head over to my twitter list and have a look for yourself, because truthfully, I really like them all! Don’t forget to nominate the best tweets for the Unofficial Social Media Jersey, when we open the competition on Wednesday!
But before we get onto that, my personal guide to….
How to follow races on Twitter
It’s not just the riders who are tweeting – we also have team staff tweeting – and I am especially grateful to those who help us follow races. I still mourn the fact that Manel Lacambra isn’t a DS this year, as I always loved the way he could drive, yell advice to riders, take photos and tweet race updates all at the same time. But even without Manel, we have team staff who you really should be following
The biggest tip of my hat goes to Dolmans-Boels team mechanic, Richard Steege, who tweets from the race car, updating us with race information he hears on the race radio and sees in real life. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for his dedication to the sport! He’s joined in the ranks of the superstars by Karl Lima, the Hitec Products-Mistral Home team manager, who combines live race tweeting with some superb commentary on the sport – and Beth Duryea, the Specialized-lululemon soigneur, who provides race updates among her hard work for the riders.
For the North American races, the fantastic team at Podium Insight give us great commentary through the @podium_live twitter account – and I especially love team Vanderkitten’s account, for updates on everything that always make me smile.
Between them, they give us superb real-time commentary – and, of course, big love to the races like the Giro Donne, Trofeo Binda and the Route de France, that live-tweet as well. Twitter has been so useful for helping us follow races, and my heartfelt thanks go to everyone who does their bit! And if you follow them and like what they do, don’t forget to tweet them and tell them how much you appreciate what they do!
Up next: Up next: Riders who use video – and if you want to read the series so far: