With no official results being made available until after the race had concluded, the ADC Tour of Vietnam was all but impossible to report on. However, the UCI itself took the time to write a retrospective report on Vietnam’s first UCI stage race.
In recent months, the UCI has been taking more responsibility for lending its superior communications resources to lesser-known races. Regular visitors to this blog will be aware of Cycling iQ’s position on this: the spirit of the UCI’s “mission to develop and promote cycling in close collaboration with National Federations” has not manifested equitably across its global reach. Typically, only the well-established races and professional cycling events which the UCI owns (in this case, the Tour of Beijing and Tour of Hangzhou, under its for-profit division Global Cycling Promotion SA), have received airtime through its website, whilst smaller sanctioned races with fewer resources have not enjoyed such access.
So, credit must be given to the UCI’s communications department for giving front-page airtime to the 2.2-rated Tour of Vietnam at uci.ch. The publication of such an article is a small but commendable step towards the above mission statement but a hazard is obvious in the unilateral way in which the UCI produces and disseminates such content. If you can imagine a scenario in which a broadsheet journalist could have their story printed without passing it across the Editor’s desk first, you’ll see the problem.
To wit, here is an edited version of the text from the UCI’s Tour of Vietnam article ‘UCI Asia Tour: Historic victories for China and Vietnam’ follows (full article here)
“The victory of China’s En Huang in the Tour of Vietnam at the end of December was a veritable exploit. First of all because the race was part of the UCI calendar for the first time (to celebrate the National Federation’s 20th anniversary), but above all because, until then, his compatriots’ victories on the international scene were non-existent. Before Huang, impossible to find any trace of a Chinese victory in a UCI stage race outside China.
That is why the 18th December 2012 will go down in Asian cycling’s record books. Hung, aged 25, was not merely one of the representatives of the eight national teams lined up against 13 foreign teams, but undisputedly one of his country’s best cyclists, having won another UCI event, To Truong Son, in July. His victory was his country’s first in the UCI Asia Tour.”
The author’s passion for cycling can be felt, and the point about Huang En (Max Success Sports) being the first Chinese rider to win a UCI stage race outside of China is reiterated three times. The problem is, it’s not correct. In 2006, a little-known Chinese cyclist named Li Fuyu – who would later go on to become China’s first Pro Team rider with Discovery Channel in 2007 – won the Tour of Thailand, a UCI2.2 stage race; making him the first Chinese rider to win a UCI stage race outside of China.
This correction is not meant to belittle the UCI or the author, but it does illustrate the qualitative gap and research capabilities that exists between the communications department of cycling’s governing body and a dedicated specialist media platform such as VeloNation or cyclingnews. The UCI already engages an official reporter for European races, and has recently begun sourcing articles from other cycling websites where it sees fit, but whether further investment into leading a deeper and broader level of truly global coverage will be made remains to be seen. In any case, Cycling iQ will continue to contribute to UCI AsiaTour coverage wherever possible – even if, at times, it too has to be retrospective.