Jonathan Vaughters makes your life better

Welcome, cycling fan, welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. The Monuments have begun, the Giro d’Italia is (whisper it) little more than a month away, and The Little Tours are two a penny. Enjoy them.

In fact, don’t. You can’t. What should be celebrations of the sport’s beauty, stunningly rendered in technicolour, are turned into jumpy, low-bandwidth internet feeds sporadically provided by the [powers-that-be](http://videochat.gazzetta.it/index_MilanoSanremo.shtml)the hackers-that-be [hackers-that-be](http://www.cyclingfans.com/live_race_coverage). As has been said [elsewhere](http://www.competitivecyclist.com/whats-new/fruit-chewy-banesto-kit.348.html), watching most cycling is akin to watching porn. Grainy feeds, sought out alone, furtively consumed with “cooing voices and strained faces.” Look to another sport if you desire instant replays in HiDef. The most you can expect from a pirated cycling feed is the opportunity to expand your Flemish vocabulary.

And this is where Jonathan Vaughters (the most [stylish](http://bicycling.com/blogs/thisjustin/2011/01/26/an-interview-with-jonathan-vaughters/) man in cycling) makes your life better. CEO of Garmin-Cervelo – one of cycling’s most ‘winningist’ super squads – he is also head of AIGCP, the union of Pro cycling teams, and has started a campaign of saber-rattling designed to scare the sport into the 21st century. His recent litany of complaints (or even Cultural Learnings from Garmin to Make Glorious Benefit Sport of Cycling?), carried with it the unfamiliar whiff of common sense. You can read it [Here]. It has managed to inspire some [reasoned debate](http://www.cyclesportmag.com/news-and-comment/cs-comment-analysing-jvs-10-point-plan-for-cycling/). Who knew our beloved blogosphere was capable of such a thing?

For fans, cycling’s labyrinthine hierarchy and shameful realpolitik-ing causes no end of confusion and heartache. Teams are mysteriously barred from important races, whole squads [disappear](http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/510999/pegasus-sports-denied-pro-continental-team-status.html) in whirl of bureaucracy, anti-doping practices remain a complete joke. Good on Vaughters for taking on this Hydra, but fans’ wounds are mostly healed by their love of seeing people ride bikes. The biggest impediment to the casual consumer of cycling races isn’t the sport’s Kafkaesque approach to its own organisation, it is the fact that media organisations have no way of purchasing the rights to a season’s worth of races. And this is where Jonathan Vaughters makes your life better (potentially).

Without this TV is left with the odd plucky channel (Eurosport and ITV4 spring to mind) showing vanilla-flavoured highlights of the ‘finest races’ designed to appeal to the least informed viewer, and an internet full of unreliable feeds in whatever regional romance-language is available. Fancy catching a stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya? Take a few Catalan lessons before trying to comprehend the commentary available through their website. Count your blessings though, the Vuelta a Pais Basco won’t have any official coverage, so you will have to settle for trawling through twitter to get a link to a spasmodic 2-frames-per-second highlights reel.

It takes a fan of not inconsiderable geekiness to put up with such a state of affairs. I would know. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Premier League and F1 inspired reforms the the AIGCP has put forward could revolutionise the broadcasting of road cycling. Attentive fans have already had a peek behind the curtains. The Amgen Tour of California features live telemetry from riders’ powermetres and HRM straps. The BBC’s stunning Track cycling coverage featured commentators who gave the impression that they had researched the event they were watching. Incredible. ITV4, for all its faults, has used the Tour Series to create a criterium format for the enjoyment of millions. Finally, Strava (the social network-cum-training tool) proves that the ‘game-ification’ of data analysis can reveal incredible pieces of information.

The market is there, as proved by Rouleur magazine et al. Imagine how great it would be if it were exploited!

A word of warning: a ‘better’ commercialisation of cycling is still a commercialisation of cycling. As with any commodity, it will be held unto the power of capital and all the rest that this entails. Imagine the most gratuitous and crass result of football’s continuing money-obsession. This could happen to cycling, but in an even more… EURO-trash way. Remember this? The horror, the horror of Pippo’s greased and gleaming body. But, what price decent coverage?Welcome, cycling fan, welcome to the most wonderful time of the year. The Monuments have begun, the Giro d’Italia is (whisper it) little more than a month away, and The Little Tours are two a penny. Enjoy them.

In fact, don’t. You can’t. What should be celebrations of the sport’s beauty, stunningly rendered in technicolour, are turned into jumpy, low-bandwidth internet feeds sporadically provided by the powers-that-be or the hackers-that-be. As has been said elsewhere, watching most cycling is akin to watching porn. Grainy feeds, sought out alone, furtively consumed with “cooing voices and strained faces.” Look to another sport if you desire instant replays in HiDef. The most you can expect from a pirated cycling feed is the opportunity to expand your Flemish vocabulary.

And this is where Jonathan Vaughters (the most stylish man in cycling) makes your life better. CEO of Garmin-Cervelo – one of cycling’s most ‘winningist’ super squads – he is also head of AIGCP, the union of Pro cycling teams, and has started a campaign of saber-rattling designed to scare the sport into the 21st century. His recent litany of complaints (or even Cultural Learnings from Garmin to Make Glorious Benefit Sport of Cycling?), carried with it the unfamiliar whiff of common sense. You can read it here. It has managed to inspire some reasoned debate. Who knew our beloved blogosphere was capable of such a thing?

For fans, cycling’s labyrinthine hierarchy and shameful realpolitik-ing causes no end of confusion and heartache. Teams are mysteriously barred from important races, whole squads disappear in whirl of bureaucracy, anti-doping practices remain a complete joke. Good on Vaughters for taking on this Hydra, but fans’ wounds are mostly healed by their love of seeing people ride bikes. The biggest impediment to the casual consumer of cycling races isn’t the sport’s Kafkaesque approach to its own organisation, it is the fact that media organisations have no way of purchasing the rights to a season’s worth of races. And this is where Jonathan Vaughters makes your life better (potentially).

Without this TV is left with the odd plucky channel (Eurosport and ITV4 spring to mind) showing vanilla-flavoured highlights of the ‘finest races’ designed to appeal to the least informed viewer, and an internet full of unreliable feeds in whatever regional romance-language is available. Fancy catching a stage of the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya? Take a few Catalan lessons before trying to comprehend the commentary available through their website. Count your blessings though, the Vuelta a Pais Basco won’t have any official coverage, so you will have to settle for trawling through twitter to get a link to a spasmodic 2-frames-per-second highlights reel.

It takes a fan of not inconsiderable geekiness to put up with such a state of affairs. I would know. It doesn’t have to be this way. The Premier League and F1 inspired reforms the the AIGCP has put forward could revolutionise the broadcasting of road cycling. Attentive fans have already had a peek behind the curtains. The Amgen Tour of California features live telemetry from riders’ powermetres and HRM straps. The BBC’s stunning Track cycling coverage featured commentators who gave the impression that they had researched the event they were watching. Incredible. ITV4, for all its faults, has used the Tour Series to create a criterium format for the enjoyment of millions. Finally, Strava (the social network-cum-training tool) proves that the ‘game-ification’ of data analysis can reveal incredible pieces of information.

The market is there, as proved by Rouleur magazine et al. Imagine how great it would be if it were exploited!

A word of warning: a ‘better’ commercialisation of cycling is still a commercialisation of cycling. As with any commodity, it will be held unto the power of capital and all the rest that this entails. Imagine the most gratuitous and crass result of football’s continuing money-obsession. This could happen to cycling, but in an even more… EURO-trash way. Remember [this?](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7w_xj73U5Q) The horror, the horror of Pippo’s greased and gleaming body. But, what price decent coverage?

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