Tour de France, Bradley and lazy journalism.

The Guardian has a section in G2 called “shortcuts.”  Under the sub title “International relations”,an article headlined;

What the French really think about Bradley Wiggins.”

We never really get to find out; there follows a series of cliches about how long it has been since a French person has won the yellow jersey. The telling paragraph in this article goes as follows:

But never has a grape harvest been so sour as when Bradley Wiggins became the first Brit to win the Tour. As soon as it became clear he would be atop the podium, the grumbles began; Anglo-Saxon capitalism was infecting the race; Wiggins and his Team Sky had won through cash, control and uninspired “scientific” cycling; Wiggins “lacked panache”. It was “boring”. Christian Prudhomme, Tour director said: “This Tour marks the beginning of a new world; a world that speaks English and is becoming more and more prominent in cycling.”

This is a total misrepresentation (deliberate?) of how the French feel.

Let me make myself clear. Of course “the French” resent not having won a Tour for some time. It is their sport. Along with the Belgians, the Dutch, the Italians, the Spanish… they will complain in the same way that English football supporters will claim that they have the right to win just because they were there first. This is a mass spectator sport , unlike in England, and they have the right to expect..

And yes, there is some resentment against TeamSky- the same sort of resentment that English football fans have against Man City or Chelsea- and yes there is a debate between  technical team riding and instinctive riding, but don’t let that lead you into thinking “the French” begrudge Bradley, or indeed Cavendish, their victory.

In L’Equipe on Saturday 21/7 the article headlined “Wiggo le Froggy” tried to claim  Bradley as  an honorary Frenchman.

Would there have been the mass support for Bradley in England if he had achieved the same when riding for Fdj, Credit agricole  or Cofidis?  I don’t think so.

He speaks French! This is actually very important and another reason the French accept him. But most of all, Bradley respects the traditions of the Tour and this was demonstrated to all when he held up the peleton to allow Cadel to gain equal time after the tack incident. That is the sort of thing that the French admire.

Perhaps the Guardian should instead have referred to the interview in L’Equipe where Bernard Hinault stated that (road) cycling belongs to all countries.

A lazy piece of journalism. An English journalist accepting a stereo type of what the French (stereotypically) think of the English.

You may also be interested in my posts: Our Day at the Tour de France and Paris; a few photos


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