Monday 13 July 2009

chirps from birds

The defining feature for me of this current Tour de France has not been the internecine team dynamics in Astana (seen before at La Vie Claire), the obfuscation of huge mountains to be climbed followed by long flat run ins to the finish (we can't have a gladiatorial summit showdown every day) or even the now usual appearance of Holywood gliterrati at the biggest VIP shmooze event on Earth.

No, this TdF has been marked as separate by the coming of Twitter. Never before have we had the same insight into what the riders have thought or are thinking, have done or are doing or perhaps are thinking of doing. From their post stage dinner table atmoshperes to the team bus meetings, the massage table music choice to dietary peccadilloes.

The riders are now our riders, in much the same way as celebrities and their culture purport to make the remote all too familiar and the celebs our own property. Except unlike celebrity culture driven by a rabid papparazi and gossip mag industry uninterested in accuracy, what we get on twitter is rider led - their choice in other words.

Styles differ - lancearmstrong gives you a smorgasboard information overload about everything he is up to. Part infomercial, part publicity exercise (doping test #??), part psychological warfare. Twitter has clearly been a blessing for his media profile, allowing him huge control over what information he releases. He has even resorted to throwing the baby out of the pram in relation to main stream media and communicating only through twitter.

bradwiggins gives you a somewhat different take - sparse, dry, often witty and what you would expect from a man who considers what he has to say before opening his mouth.

cadelevans also uses his partly as a fanzine publicity tool, publishing answers to what fans and commentators have been asking him.

There are many others worth checking out - mcewenrobbie, ghincapie to name a couple. Whilst the TV coverage gives you the action, the internet news sites the results and formal interviews, twitter gives you an almost real time impression of the down time of riders, the time we never really see or hear about and the Tour is all the more compelling and fascinating for it. The elite community of the peloton has just become a little less remote and inaccessible. Tweet on.

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