Tuesday, May 10, 2011

US Cycling Coverage

I gave up on pro cycling last year, but when a cyclist died yesterday, I saw the AP wire story on a couple of sites. As I read the lead, my sadness was mixed with irritation at US media coverage:
Belgian cyclist Wouter Weylandt died Monday after a high-speed downhill crash at the Giro d'Italia, the first death in a major cycling race in 16 years.
Wait a minute... Didn't Andrei Kivilev die more recently at Paris-Nice? They must have forgotten about him. But as I continued reading, I found that Kivilev was not forgotten:
In 2003, Kazakh rider Andrei Kivilev died after he fell from his bike and fractured his skull while not wearing a helmet during the Paris-Nice stage race.
No, this is just the typical way US media cover pro cycling. In short, if it isn't a three-week Grand Tour, then it isn't a "major race." Paris-Nice may "only" be a week long, but that doesn't mean it isn't a major race. It's part of the UCI WorldTour (formerly ProTour), a collection of two dozen premier events at cycling's highest level, and the race dates back to 1933. Many of the all-time greats have won Paris-Nice, though Lance Armstrong and Greg LeMond never did.* A European news service wouldn't dare deny Paris-Nice's status as a major race, and the AP shouldn't either.

* These are the only bike racers most Americans have ever heard of. The fact that these two men focused their efforts on the Tour de France has done a great deal of damage in shaping the narrow perception of pro cycling for the average American.

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