Cycling copies Football/Soccer

July 7, 2011

Cycling often looks at soccer with envy. The teams are rich, the federation is rich, doping scandals disappear before they get any traction and 7-figure donations are made from the federation to WADA instead of 5-figure donations from the athlete to the federation. So it’s disappointing that what cycling seems to be copying from football right now is the one thing we all detest: incomprehensible refereeing.

First we saw stage 1 time losses still being adjusted 3 days later. Then there was the Cavendish-Hushovd intermediate sprint, now there is the Rojas-Boonen sprint. Not only the calls themselves raise questions, the timing makes it all even worse. If you have an intermediate sprint at 2pm, can you really not review the tape and make a decision before you have the jersey ceremony at 6pm? How long does a video review take during an (ice) hockey or (American) football game? 30 seconds?

Any fan with a Twitter account and a Youtube connection can make these calls more efficiently (if they were calls to be made to begin with) than is currently happening. That said, if it takes five hours to review a video, we shouldn’t be surprised it takes 12 months to review a doping case.

12 Responses to “Cycling copies Football/Soccer”

  1. David Says:

    Well said. Cycling is increasingly run by a bunch of muppets. If someone was to make a satirical sit-com of how cycling is run the truth would certainly be stranger than fiction!


  2. Mr. Platini once said when asked about introducing technology in football: “never”.

    But we are not in football. With all the motorbikes around and camera man filming all the action isn’t that a point of asking why aren’t there referees to judge sprints after they happened?

    With all the decreasing interest from people of cycling over the last years, does the UCI want to find more wood to burn themselves?

  3. targetsports Says:

    I’ve worked in football for many years, and more recently pro cycling – for teams and sponsors. The world of football can be a horrible place, I much prefer cycling. But the sport does seem to survive in spite of itself – the “structure” is crazy and is in urgent need of top-down reform.

  4. Bertux RS Says:

    Good entry! In my opinion, the more technology you use, the less effort you waste. Referees in Cycling should take advantage of NFL and Tennis “calls” concept.
    It´s obvious that you cannot apply a Hawk-eye here but maybe there is certain room for a video operator and a referee, both located in one of the official cars and working together during the stage.
    Yeah.. see what the UCI would do: plenty of cameras installed in plenty of cars with plenty of those efficient referees.
    Just like Gerard likes! :)


  5. […] Cycling copies soccer. This blog is always a nice read because it’s the true face of cycling. […]

  6. ancker Says:

    My problem with this whole thing is that the stewards are trying to determine what the riders’ intentions are/were. This isn’t a video review of who crossed the line first, it’s a review of who did what to potentially impede another. Knowing whether a rider was moving over to block or just to get a better line is hard to do unless you are the rider himself.

    The NFL, NHL, etc use replay to deterministically make the correct call in a situation that is black and white. They do not review penalties because it would be impossible to know for sure the intent of a player/rider. Both leagues mentioned above used to have “unintentional” categories for penalties but have since removed them due to the fact you can’t read a player’s mind.

    At the intermediate sprint in Stage 5 Cavendish was furious that he was blocked on the sprint. Indeed he was blocked, but the way I saw it, only because Boonen was moving over to get around Rojas. Rojas was moving to his left for an unknown reason. I saw no indication that Rojas was moving over to impede Cav or if he even know he was coming up the inside. Maybe a more experienced rider/observer can tell better than I.


    • Hi ancker, thanks for your in-depth response. I am not sure that intent is really a part of these particular rules, so it shouldn’t be that hard. Certainly there could be a decision made if there is a huge discrepancy between the action and an abundantly clear intent (good or bad), that that should be an exception and not that hard. But certainly there is a lot of grey when you have rules like “keep your line” but no definition on how much of a deviation is a deviation and for how long you need to keep your line (for the entire length of the stage you have to stay on the right side of the road? Obviously not).

  7. Aaron Check Says:

    Lets just be thankful that riders haven’t yet started taking ‘dives’ to get rivals relegated during a sprint.

    That would, however, be the epitome of taking one for the team.

  8. Leo Says:

    The wisdom and insight you are consistently demonstrating in this blog is making it increasingly difficult for me to consider any bike other than a Cervelo when the time comes for a purchase in the next few months.

    • Bertux RS Says:

      Hi there, friend!
      I was considering a Bianchi C2C prior to notice the existence of “Beyond The Peloton” audiovisuals…
      After watching all chapters it was impossible to imagine any other bike than a Cervélo.
      So don´t fall in the temptation of BTP if mere words wind you up!!!

    • ancker Says:

      Buy one for me too. :)


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