The Antipodean Cone of Silence
In Australia in the 1970's if you were a cycling fan and wanted to follow European racing you could buy the Sydney Morning Herald on a Sunday and see if there were some race results buried in the back of the sports section. Occasionally if you were lucky there would be a feature article sometime during the Tour de France. By the early eighties you could watch a one hour highlights package on television of the Tour de France sometime in August. This information seemed so important to me at the time, I still have some of the cycling clippings stashed away along with some old Cycle Sport International magazines, not too uncommon when I ask other cyclists who've been riding since then.
Back in the 60's Dennis Lane took to Europe with his cameras and spent the best part of the next three decades on the back of motorcycles covering European pro bicycle racing. As if signifying a move forward into a new era Dennis arrived back in Australia during the mid eighties, still shooting bike races from the back of motorcycles but now covering races like the Commonwealth Bank Classic as well as selected European races. At the same time Rupert Guinness appeared in Europe, a full time cycling reporter on the scene. Next came SBS and ultimately the internet plus Eurosport via your TV. Now there's live twitter updates and instant uploads to You Tube. Race websites like the RCS site exist with instantaneous access to hi res images, video and rider interviews on the spot. We no longer have to wait three months for the latest issue of Cycle Sport International to arrive from the UK via sea mail.
Yet with all this access to instant news if you live in Australia there's still one thing which can't be overcome by technology, the time zone. When I was living in Europe in the 80's it was easy, you could watch a race like the Milan Sanremo live on television, then inspired there was still enough light left to go jump on your bike and train for a few hours more. Fast forward to 2012 and information overload, it's Saturday and Snake calls with a plan for Milan Sanremo, it goes like this. The Milan San Remo bike race is televised in the middle of the night when we would rather be asleep, plus we'd rather get on our bikes and go for a pedal at six in the morning, without feeling like we'd been smashed on the front end of a freight train. Further the proposal is that anyone on the ride doesn't in any way access any media stream nor allow any relative or friend to divulge the results of the Milan Sanremo. Easier said than done. That includes arriving after the ride at a coffee shop packed with cyclists all eager to share the latest cycling results! Next we all converge on Snake's house to watch the recorded race "live", as if it had just started and there we were all none the wiser. A fools game to play the antipodean cone of silence. Don't you love it every year when the Tour de France is on, you're about to have a chat about last nights stage and someone is bound to say "hey hold on, shhh, I haven't seen it yet, you'll spoil it."
So there we were four intrepid Cone of Silence Cohorts witnessing "live" coverage of Spartacus ripping the legs off the remnants of the pro peleton survivors after almost 300 kilometres. Mixed reactions as neither Nibali who'd instigated the attack on the Poggio nor Gerrans who'd followed could help Cancellara, the only man strong enough to bridge the gap at the critical moment, then slice his way down the hill into Sanremo, to deliver his grimacing passengers to the finish line on the Lungomare Italo Calvino. There was no answer from Nibali as he and Gerrans desperately tried to stick to Cancellara's wheel on the descent. The answer came from Gerrans at the line, afterwards he told the press that sitting on Cancellara was like sitting on a motorbike.
No more Sydney Morning Herald clippings or waiting for Cycle Sport International magazine, "live coverage" plus Aussie riders who are actually in the race, a far cry from the seventies and two years in a row an Aussie winner, couldn't get any better than that!
All Images and Video courtesy of RCS MediaGroup S.p.A. Foto Daniele Badolato RCS SPORT