Local newspapers have long been the go-to source for early news of next year’s Tour de France and the sentiment remains the same for the Tour of Britain too. Last week saw the announcement in the East Anglian press of a return to the region by the Tour of Britain; expecting the race to pay visits to both Ipswich and Norwich over two days. The eastern region has displayed a growing prowess for hosting such events, having secured the visits of previous tours in consecutive years from 2010 to 2012. Impressive progress has also been made in the domestic calendar; with the recent Suffolk Coastal GP proving to be an exciting and hotly contested conclusion to the Premier Calendar.
Critiscim is present however when analysing the sporting and commercial success of these events in the region’s press. For example, Ipswich organisers during previous ToB visits seemed more focused upon the promotion of Sky Ride events than any consistent reporting of the race; surprising having gone to so much effort to secure the event. Equally strange focuses were present throughout the media; journalists preferring to interview families which have completed the equivalent of a fun run, rather than report the main event. The knock on effect here means that the cyclists and teams which commit so much in terms of money and energy to competing in the area, are left without an media representation to promote themselves and their sponsors. An issue in such a volatile sport when it comes to funding; ensuring that brands are kept happy is a major concern for teams when trying to secure further funding.
The fact of the matter is that the British public love a spectacle; something which cycling lends itself to so easily. Crowds soon mass when a race is nearing, but the majority are there to simple see it. Local press fail to stimulate a wanting by viewers to understand the tactics within a race; on some occasions even struggling to report the outcome correctly.
Road racing may seem like a circus or even agonisingly boring on the surface perhaps; it is only a tactical awareness which makes the sport’s full excitement obvious to recently interested people. Admittedly, coverage needs to strike a balance with the council fitness schemes or sky rides which back the Tour of Britian positively. Ensuring that communities are informed as to how impressive it is to have such events hurtling through their village should also be a priority too though. Not only does a greater understanding extract every ounce of excitement, it also encourages people to watch more races and consider participating more seriously themselves too. If local media outlets can up their game when it comes to reporting top races in their area, the entire spectrum of those involved will benefit from better representation. Sponsors are promoted, teams’ profiles raised and a broader range of people encouraged to follow the support for longer than a fleeting pass.