The Worlds Road Race Post-Coital Recap

Oh dear reader, sometimes you just find yourself caught up in the moment and transported away as a host of women from around the world conspire and cooperate to give you really good race. I mean really, really good race.

You may recall that I was awash in the afterglow of really good racing following the Olympics road race, and I find myself similarly disposed following this year’s world champs. So for better or worse, here are my musings and observations on one of the best one-day races of the year.

    1. The biggest distraction from how the race was won was the biggest incident on the day – Yes, I’m talking about the huge and rather nasty crash that split the race and generally stole a lot of the attention from everyone on the day. But spending a lot of time trying to dissect that is a massive distraction from how the race was really won and is also pretty fucking unproductive. The road was narrow, there were barriers, someone went down in the bunch, then the bunch went down. It happens. I’d say ‘thankfully nobody was seriously hurt’ but by now we’ve heard about riders finishing the race only to find out they’ve got broken ankles and shit like that. So you know, ouch and holy fuck that’s impressive and so on. But mostly, the crash was significant and large and messy and it happened early enough that it impacted the race but didn’t define it. Let’s move on.

2. I know at least one person (*cough* Sarah *cough*) who thinks the American team was crazy – Sarah is convinced that the Americans were riding the same tactic that they’ve ridden for the last few years which is basically characterised as “Ride on the front for ages and then kind of disappear”. I tend to disagree, giving the team the benefit of the doubt as pre-race tactics clearly didn’t get to evolve due to The Big Fucking Crash (henceforth the BFC). I’d have been very interested to see what that original plan was but we got a different race and I think we can all agree that Amber Neben did a great job making it into the break and staying in contention until the end.

3.  The break wasn’t really a break until Vos bridged across – that sounds kind of obvious knowing the result, but the thing is that the break never really looked serious, just dangling around 35seconds out and waiting to be reeled in. And then Vos bridged, Longo Borghini chased (great effort right there, that was her race-defining moment) and the break started gaining time. One of the reasons Vos is so frightening is that she’ll make an effort like that, go right to the front and start taking pulls. The break had to start working hard or Vos was just going to keep riding and leave them all behind. Excellent stuff.

4.  I’m sort of biased, even though I don’t want to be and we’re all just going to have to deal with itRachel Neylan fucking rocks. Seriously, the lady had a shit year last year, basically trying to set a record for how many times she could break all the bones in her body (<– possibly exaggerating). Then she had a really tough comeback, being told by the AIS here in Australia that they didn’t think she’d be able to seriously compete at the top level and so she’d need to make alternative arrangements. Then there was a tough year with her team, culminating in them taking their bike back so she wound up the year riding l’Ardeche in a mix-team and the worlds on a borrowed bike. Sarah has a great interview with Rachel over here. Anyway, I told Sarah after Vos had bridged that if Rach could stay with the next split in the group, she’d be a strong chance for a podium. Sarah laughed at me. This is my proudest moment in being a fan of women’s cycling.

[Ed: Sarah’s insisted that I note that she said that she thinks Rachel is awesome BUT that there was no chance of her making the podium. It’s true, that’s what Sarah said but she did also laugh at me. But I think we’re forgetting the most important thing, which is that I had the last laugh!]

5.  Anna van der Breggen’s attack decided the raceAnna launched off the front, Marianne eased up and everyone else in the group exhaled “fuck”. The problem came down to a few simple, but brutal truths. Marianne wasn’t going to chase, she’s an incredibly selfless teammate and would happily see Anna win. But she also had the option to wait for Anna to get a good gap and then to power everyone off her wheel and roll across for a Dutch 1-2. It was perfect tactics for the Dutch. Of those left, the question was who would chase. Somebody had to, but whoever did would be risking EVERYTHING by burning matches to do it. I was seriously worried that they’d left it too long when Amber Neben made the decision to chase, and in doing so, I think that was the moment where Rachel and Elisa settled their podium placings.

6.  Vos’ run to the line was fantastic – from the way she kept checking over her shoulder to make sure the chase wasn’t catching her, to being able grab the national flag and hold it aloft as she crossed the line. It was a great celebration. The last 1.7km that come after cresting the Cauberg look like some of the longest and most painful metres you can have in cycling.

7.  The following buzz was great – there were all sorts of wonderful tweets and observations about the race, but my personal favourite was the tweet from Zak Dempster in which he stated that he and some Aussie teammates had been watching and they were all pretty sure that they wouldn’t have been able to win that race against Vos.

8.  Broadcasters don’t understand shit about women’s cycling – I was fortunate enough to have the women’s race broadcast ‘live’ by the SBS channel here in Australia. They’re the spiritual home of cycling and have done fantastic work through three decades now in bringing cycling to the country, but fuck me I find their producing decisions infuriating sometimes. For a start the programming began with a half-hour recap of the TTT (Women and Men), then the ITT (Women and Men), which I wouldn’t mind so much except that the fucking race had already started, which meant I was missing live race pictures. I was sorely tempted to turn to my beloved internet to solve my problems, but I believe in supporting my broadcaster and castigating them using social media so I bitched about it on twitter instead. (Seriously SBS, it’s called Picture-in-Picture and it’s so standard that there’s a pre-set for it on the Grass Valley Mixer, just stick the race in one corner and keep talking but show the fucking pictures!) To add insult to injury, every fucking idiot kept referring to the allegations that last year’s race in Copenhagen was ‘boring’. Mercifully former world champ of everything and retired pro Kate Bates was on hand to set the guys straight and provide actual information about women’s cycling. She did a stellar job. It’s just such a shame that SBS didn’t think it was worth having a woman or even someone knowledgeable about women’s cycling as part of the actual commentary team. Anyway, it wasn’t just me. Apparently the BBC were also a pack of bastards and didn’t have much going on in terms of quality commentary. The award for best coverage must therefore be shared by NL1 who had Marijn de Vries to keep things in check and Eurosport who made use of Rochelle Gilmore‘s expertise. I’m reliably informed that both did a wonderful job.

Lastly, I saw some really weird comments from people during the race, but by far the best (worst?) has to go to the person who said that ‘at least in men’s racing the attacks are meaningful’. I don’t even know where to begin with this comment. What’s the difference between a meaningful attack and a meaningless attack? Is it whether or not it’s the winning move? Because, if so, every race can only ever have one meaningful attack. Or maybe it’s the attack that has your favourite rider in it? I don’t know. I can’t even tell if that comment is wrong or stupid or genius or insightful because I don’t understand it.

I find the comment about meaningful attacks to not be meaningful and it has confused and upset me. I now hate all comments that aren’t meaningful, I think. Or maybe I don’t mind as long as men make them?

Anyway, beloved reader, the point is that this was a fucking great race and I enjoyed it immensely. What did you think?


11 thoughts on “The Worlds Road Race Post-Coital Recap

  1. You needed to livestream it from SBS website, I did, did not have a choice in WA.

    Got uninterrupted coverage from @antmccrossan and guests, until the Australian commentary team took over, which was disappointing did not even bother to record it.

    Got myself a copy of the Eurosports HD coverage, so I can watch the race again.

    • Yeah, you’re being far too reasonable and calmly rational for my liking Nick. As a man-in-touch-with-his-feelings (TM) I think it’s important to lash out in a fit of self-righteous petulance when the moment takes me. But yes, as you say, the streaming option would have been much better, but I do feel an obligation to give SBS the benefit of my ratings presence.

      I just wish they’d do as I tell them when it comes to producing their coverage. I’d manage their adbreaks better as well. It’s not rocket surgery.

  2. As a huge fan of pro cycling, if not actually a rider (knackers my back so I run instead) I’m grateful for whatever TV coverage I can get. I discovered Eurosport’s UCI coverage this year and have spent far too much time in front of the TV as a result. What I don’t understand is that, unlike Association Football, or rugby, etc, where the men’s version is mostly more exciting to watch than the women’s – simply because it’s more powerful or quicker, not necessarily more skilful – I can’t see much difference between the men’s and women’s versions. This is probably because of the way it’s shot, in that the coverage is moving along with the action. That being the case, why does nobody think there’s a market for broadcasting women’s bike riding? I was astonished (and delighted) to discover there’s a Giro d’Italia for women – I had no idea. I want to see coverage. I want to discover heroes (sorry, heroines) as I do in the men’s. I can’t be alone, but I suspect there’s a whole army of casual supporters (possibly the bulk of viewers but I don’t actually know) who are as ignorant as I. How do we alert this army and put pressure on the broadcasters? Is it all down to sponsorship and advertising revenue?

    • It’s interesting, isn’t it – because a really exciting men’s cycling race isn’t about the speed, or the power, it’s about the tactics – and one of the things Dan and I agree in is that because women’s races are so much shorter, they have a lot more energy for attacking and tactics, so to us, they’re more exciting than the men’s.

      The Giro Donne gets an hour of coverage on RAI every day – it segues beautifully from the TdF into the Giro Donne, and has this huge audience. Their coverage is a lot of fun (I always fool myself into thinking I can understand Italian by the end of the Giro!) – you can see a lot of it on the daily race summaries we post on Podium Café (eg my highlights of the race – and the whole 2012 coverage) – but damn, how come we don’t get it on Eurosport, when I can see competitive lumberjacking, snooker and ten-pin bowling etc etc etc? It makes me so cross!

      In terms of putting pressure on the broadcasters, emailing your favourite broadcaster, and tweeting them, too, makes a difference, or I’m told it does. It can’t do any harm! As for the untapped army…. more people watched the women’s Olympic road race than the men’s, on the BBC, which I hope gets attention… I guess we just have to keep trying?

      In the meantime, you can help the women by clicking the links to their/team websites and blogs. It sounds like it’s a tiny thing, but every click really, really helps show that it’s worth supporting them. Click early, click often, and click from as many IP addresses as you have access too! Check your favourite riders’ and team’s site every week, and it shows sponsors how much we like them!

    • Very interesting perspective Rob. I think there are huge differences in men’s and women’s races, but as Sarah mentions, I think they’re mostly tactical and so they’re not as visually apparent as in some other sports. But I also think that’s part of what’s inherently beautiful about cycling, it’s such a thinker’s sport.

      Anyway, the main point you make is very valid. The broadcasting issue is a tough one to crack, mostly because it almost immediately devolves into a circular argument. Race organisers say they can’t force broadcasters to show it (and they can’t), broadcasters say fans don’t watch it (probably true because if they thought they could make money off it, they would), fans say we’d watch it if it was broadcast (probably also true, which makes an awesome circle of frustration).

      So really, the best thing we can do is to keep doing what we’re doing now. Talking about it, linking to what is available, demonstrating that there is an audience here that wants it, and will watch it.

      I also have strong views on the future of technology with regards to video generation and distribution. I’m a big fan of a startup called Vyclone that specialise in generating near real time multi-viewpoint video from iPhones, automatically editing the video together to create a near seamless product. I think that sort of innovation will revolutionise the way that races are covered and viewed.

  3. entendere Unless you are one of the unlucky ones chosen to provide rating data, you would of been beter off being counted by SBS by livestreaming from them. If you need to rant as I often do, @CyclingCentral will acknowledge. They have said the have improved managing their adbreaks after they went for a 3 minute adbreak (I know, I timed it) during a key attack of the 2010 TdF. Still the can’t broadcast live to WA.

    Everybody is freaking about Channel 9 forthcoming coverage of the TDU. Channel 9 did great coverage of the 2011 NSW Grand Prix Criterium Series, with almost equal coverage of men’s and women’s races + intelligent commentary by Kate Bates. Maybe Channel 9 can even get some stages of the TDU live to all of Australia instead of selected states.

    • ah, but there’s the rub. If I’m going to stream, then I’m going to stream from one of the European providers, preferably where there are no ads. And on the subject of adbreaks, SBS still often take 3 minute breaks (I know, I time them too!), which is one of my pet hates. I have on occasion thought of moving to WA just for the better timezone for race-watching (and the beaches, the wine regions, the lifestyle and general awesomeness) but it must be incredibly frustrating that you have to get delayed coverage.

      And to be fair, I can understand everyone freaking out about Ch9 and the TDU. I mean they fucked up the Olympic coverage so monumentally bad that I wind up opening and closing my mouth like a goldfish as my mental rage cutout prevents me from being able to find the words to express myself. I have zero expectation of good things from Ch9 but on the upside that almost guarantees that I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they manage to get any footage to air at all. Of course, this year “coverage” meant nightly highlights at midnight or later… so yeah, I’m just not expecting anything good from them.

  4. “Post-coital recap.” “Awash in the afterglow.” A man writes about watching women’s racing as if it was sex. Oh, and this is the same man who has complained against others about advocating that women racers use their sexuality to promote themselves and their sport, since he wants his nieces to believe that cycling is an option that won’t objectify them. Well, I suppose he also recognizes that his nieces must be superlatively acute, and, hence, will recognize whatever subtle distinction there might be between the two.

    • G’day Ronin, thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment on two pretty clear jokes at the top of the post without addressing anything at all to do with the race, several weeks after the race took place. I’d normally be willing to try to engage in an actual conversation regarding the points you sort of raise, but given the fact that you’ve tried to take what I’d consider a bit of a cheap, personal shot I’m going to go ahead and call “troll” on you and let it pass. Thanks again for ignoring the 8 different points and some 900 odd other words in the post that were about racing. I especially want to thank you for making up things about my nieces, much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s