Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What's in a narrative?

One Sunday in Paris, the excellent documentary on Cadel Evans’ 2011 Tour de France victory aired last Saturday before the SBS coverage of this year’s Tour opening prologue.

It included a post stage 18 interview on the Galibier with Cadel taking questions from the press in a BMC van, until he became understandably angry at journalists and cameramen stepping on his bike. He stopped the interview and closed the van door.

I had never seen this footage before and wondered why. Could it be the press were embarassed they had done such a thing and didn’t want that footage out there? Maybe. But I believe there’s another reason.

It didn’t fit the media and fans’ new narrative for Cadel. A new narrative forged in rainbows. A narrative containing words never used about Cadel prior to his 2009 World Championship victory. Relaxed. Relieved. Calm. Attacking.

Contrast this to the widely circulated footage and coverage of Cadel’s “don’t stand on my dog or I cut your head off,” comment and other choice reactions following several races including the 2009 Vuelta, not long before the 2009 World Championships. All fit the previous narrative for Cadel. Prickly, hard to deal with, angry, and stressed.

Many in the media and fans are forming a similar narrative for Bradley Wiggins, developing it further at this year’s Tour de France. 

Earlier this year at the Tour of Romandie, rather than many think Bradley's interview with French journalists charming and funny, he was awful because he dared to end the conference saying “come back with better questions.” But he was right, they were terrible questions and he pointed that out with his tongue in his cheek. 

This week, his stage six deflection of a camera coming at his head was "typical Wiggins," as was his colourful stage eight outburst. Such outbursts meant "cracks" are showing, he's stressed and labouring under the burden of the yellow jersey. This pressure was clearly not evident in stage 9's Time Trial. 

But there's something more sinister about the narrative forming for Wiggins. Because he answered the journalist's specific question about people on Twitter doubting him and didn't deliver a speech of Obama's Yes we Can like proportions to restore the faith of the tifosi, he is now suspicious, even more so after romping home in the Time Trial. 

The bullying, anonymous Twifosi. So cynical they would believe Wiggins delivering a Lance Armstrong 2005 podium style speech about the purity of the peloton and his numbers in a post Tour stage press conference?   

I do not agree with his use of the F and C bomb. But I agree with his sentiment. As for Bradley missing an opportunity to address the tifosi's doubt about everyone in the peloton, good grief. Give me strength. 

Yes, fans do make up the sport, riders should be aware of this. And no doubt Wiggins is. But he was asked a question about people on Twitter who doubt him. With the constant barrage of excrement Bradley must undergo in this regard on Twitter, what other evidence does he have that this lot aren't sad bullies? 

While fans do make up the sport, who are we going to watch if riders like Wiggins aren't there? F*king doped up MAMIL c*nts riding in Z grade crits and wheezing their way through sportives? Give me prickly, stressed, panicky suspected dopers any day. 


  1. Yes!

    Thank you!!!!!

    OMG, after 2 days of just about feeling like this is the worst Tour ever, and its not because of the riding, I've enjoyed the racing, it is so...relieving to read something so succinctly put and in words far better than I can come up with, making a point that I have been trying to make.

    You've restored part of my faith (in cycling fans). Thank you.

  2. I'm glad you've used the word bullying. Because that is specifically what I'm seeing when it comes to certain people trying to communicate with riders. A lot of barraging with aggressive language and demands they make statements that in many ways still seem like they would not end the torrent of abuse.

    You need respect to have a dialogue with someone, and really I see so little from some people. It is ridiculous. Vaughters tries but I do wonder for how much longer

  3. Cyclists should avoid bullying. They have to ignore Twifosi's mentions. Otherwise, they'd be feeding doping's suspicion. They won't give good image of themselves to the fans...they are who really support them in difficult times.

    Sometimes silence is the best answer.