- Can we have a sensible discussion about race?
Cycling is ‘basically’ a European sport.
Europe is ‘basically’ a ‘white’ continent.
You could apply that logic to most sports – most of which have a population-proportionate representation by black people.
The vast majority of black footballers in European or UK teams are European, for example…Posted 3 years agowwaswasSubscriber
Have a read about Team Rwanda and watch the video ‘Rising from the Ashes’. It’s fantastic story.
They managed to get a rider to qualify for the 2012 Olympics;
Six years ago, he had won a mountain bike race on a borrowed bike. Now there was a shiny new one, fitted to his body. The first time Adrien flew overseas, he carried his possessions in a grocery bag. Now there was luggage with rollers.
Inside was a spotless uniform in the blue, green and yellow of the Rwandan flag.
He was not going to win. This he knew. Sunday’s men’s mountain bike race would be 34 grueling kilometers, up and down and up again, threading over steep gravel and minefields of rock. He’d be among the best riders in the world. Adrien was one of 50 to qualify, and he had a modest goal.
He wanted to finish.
Still, there was weight upon Adrien’s lean shoulders. On his bike, he carried his home. He’d emerged from a nation torn by genocide, and his personal anguish had been unimaginable. Six of his siblings had been killed, and dozens more of his family members. As Niyonshuti began winning races, he’d been elevated as a symbol of a country trying to claw itself back. He’d visited the U.S. as part of Team Rwanda, a fledgling race team sponsored by benefactors including mountain bike pioneer Tom Ritchey. Adrien and his teammates were featured in magazines.
Like a lot African sporting success there’s a clear relationship between income and ability to devote the time to compete. It’s still a continent where, largely, being white gives you a far greater access to money. Team Rwanda proves that giving a little to people who have nothing can change their lives, though.Posted 3 years ago
Like a lot African sporting success there’s a clear relationship between income and ability to devote the time to compete.
Lovely story, but the question is more about why the black populations of France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, UK etc aren’t represented in the pro peloton…
The story about the Rwandan cyclist could transfer to any sport.Posted 3 years agostoffelMember
Socio-economic factors aside, I think culture has a lot to do with it. You don’t see very many black and Asian peole using bikes simply for transport, so it’s unsurprising that there aren’t many racers from those groups. A lot of Balck and Asian people don’t see cycling as aspirational; bikes are ‘for children andpoor people’, whlst it’s aspirational to own a car. This will of course change over time, but if your parents don’t cycle, then there’s less chance you will. Wheras the white middle classes will encourage their kids to cycle a lot more, thus establishing cycling as a part of daily life.
Then there’s the club structure withn cycle sport; almost exclusively white and middle class. and mainly confined to the more affluent areas. In my experience, many can be pretty stuffy, conservative and unwilling to evelove (look at the UCI’s hatred of anything new for a prime example of this!). The predominantly male set-up also discourages women in a similar way. Football, on the other hand, is embedded in working class culture and areas, so there are many more opportunities for kids from all groups to get involved; it’s a truly universal sport. And kids have many role models withinfootbal; most areas will have at least one ‘local boy’ who got into Man Utd/Chelsea/Aresnal/Dagenham and Redbridge etc. Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy are never going to be rolemodesl for young black and Asian kids on councilestates.
Thingswillchange over time, but there’s still a while yet before we see any significant change inthe status quo. I think it needs a change in attitude throuhout alllevels and withn all groups, before cycle sport enjoys the universality of football etc.Posted 3 years ago
Possibly because cycling is a perceived as a “white” sport ?
If you look at other sports then certain minorities are well represented – cricket being the obvious example in the Indian and Pakistani communities –
So I think it is probably have to ask yourself why watching (and from that participating in) a fairly minor sport such as cycling isn’t as popular in the minority communities as say cricket or footballPosted 3 years agoNorthwindSubscriber
Indian friend of mine (spent early youth in India then moved here) was horrified when her son asked for a bike, to her it’s the poverty option and exactly the sort of thing she moved round the world and grafted her arse off to avoid. I don’t know how common that sort of mindset is but it’s pretty logical/understandable. (and no amount of saying MY BIKE COST MORE THAN YOUR CAR fixes it 😉 )Posted 3 years ago
Possibly because cycling is a perceived as a “white” sport ?
I’m not sure about you, but personally I don’t judge sports on colour! There’s no reason why cycling should preclude black cyclists, but there’s clearly a dearth of participants.
I suppose I’m looking at my experience of cycling: white, working class background, no family history of cycling (or any sporting interest for that matter), spent every waking hour riding every bike I could get my hands on and sought out a club in my mid teens.
There would have been no hurdles preventing me from following that course had I been black, and I see enough black kids riding round on BMXs and mountain bikes in exactly the same way I did as a youngster…Posted 3 years agobinnersSubscriber
There is a cultural thing with Asian communities. The guy in our local shop, who was originally from Pakistan, asked one day, with a mystified look on his face, why I rode to work every day, when I had a car?
I told him it was because I enjoyed it, and it wasn’t just a form of transport to me. He commented that the only people who ride bikes back home were peasants, to get from A to B, because they had no option. At this point I told him how much my bike cost, as it would probably be out of the reach of most peasants. He laughed hysterically at me, and point blank refused to believe me that you could pay that for a bike (and in the scheme of things, mines not that expensive at all)
So… I doubt that particular cultural attitude is going to produce any Tour de France winners any time soonPosted 3 years agostoffelMember
There’s no reason why cycling should preclude black cyclists
There would have been no hurdles preventing me from following that course had I been black
So if there’s ‘no reason’ and ‘no hurdles’, then why aren’t theri more blackand Asian people in cycling? Obviously there are reasons and hurdles, perceived or otherwish, or the case would be verydifferent’Posted 3 years ago
I’m not sure about you, but personally I don’t judge sports on colour
I never said i did, but I think within the wider culture around us it is.
to her it’s the poverty option
Hadn’t thought about that, unfortunately the perception is wrong as apparently cyclists earn more (although the only reference I can find is the daily mail so feel free to ignore me!)Posted 3 years ago
So if there’s ‘no reason’ and ‘no hurdles’, then why aren’t theri more blackand Asian people in cycling?
That’s exactly the question I’m asking Stoffel! I’m sure somewhere there must be a black kid, riding round on a hand-me-down road bike, seeing guys riding at warp speed on time trial bikes and thinking “I want to do that!”.
So what hurdles are stopping him going and asking a marshal how you go about having a go? That’s what I did as a 14 year old after I inadvertently turned onto a race route just ahead of a local Cat3/4 race and got cheered round a corner by a throng of onlookers!
Andyfla: I understand what you meant, but the only reason for that perception is the fact that the pro peloton in 99.5% white…Posted 3 years ago
There would have been no hurdles preventing me from following that course had I been black, and I see enough black kids riding round on BMXs and mountain bikes in exactly the same way I did as a youngster…
I’m white. When I grew up, all my primary school mates (well, the ones I had, I wasn’t very popular 😥 ) were black and we all rode BMXs constantly. None of us grew up to be pro cyclists. I don’t know what that shows.
Funnily enough, I was talking to a black man in Plymouth last week about this…Posted 3 years agolemonysamMember
i must be some sort of ambassador
Two of my climbing friends, one chinese and one half indian, make a decent amount of money from the fact that there’s virtually no non-caucasian climbers in the UK so whenever a brand/organisation wants to do a “diverse” photoshoot they get the call. One of them’s getting £2500 + expenses for a weekend’s work in the alps this summer.Posted 3 years ago
… Specifically in pro cycling…
I was talking to a non-cycling friend about the TdF yesterday and he asked why there were no black riders.
“Of course there are, there’s Yohann Gène riding for Europecar…” said I. But then it occurred to me that he’s the only one. Just over 0.5% of this year’s starting peloton was black.
Considering black people are so well represented in other sports, isn’t it surprising that cycling seems almost bereft of black talent?
So what are the reasons? My friend suggested socio-economic reasons – black people are less likely to take up sports that require expensive equipment, like yachting or polo or cycling (I pointed out that Lewis Hamilton seemed to be doing OK in his F1 car…).
Is it a physiology thing? Some black people clearly excel at ‘explosive power’ disciplines like track and field events, but then the distance events are dominated by North/East Africans.
This post isn’t in any way a criticism of cycling, and I’m certainly not suggesting there’s any form of racism in the sport, I’m just asking a genuinely perplexing question.Posted 3 years agoMrSmithMember
“Of course there are, there’s Yohann Gène riding for Europecar…” said I. But then it occurred to me that he’s the only one.
And you need to read more than the first line of a post!
apolagy accepted 😆
the other important thing to note is the chap on the far left with the big red circle on his jersey.Posted 3 years agoninfanMember
Can we pause to mention the legend and all round nice bloke who runs De Ver Cycles in London – Maurice Burton:Posted 3 years agothisisnotaspoonMember
I dunno how much of it is cultural. If cycling is percieved as “white, middle class, british, expensive” then surely that would be massively appealing to some groups who seem bent on out-britishing the british!
Do you have to grow up in outer suburbia? There was only about 100m between junctions and traffic lights where I grew up, not much room to get a good road flow going.
Surely that makes little difference (beyond having shed/garrage space to store bikes). In the context of road riding with the exception of living in the center of London, pretty much anywhere in the UK is <5miles from countryside, so the city portion would be just a warmup.
And plenty of road cyclists start on the track, and plenty of track cyclists get started in BMX, which is demographicaly an ‘inner city’ sport, as that’s where the tracks tend to be.Posted 3 years ago
And plenty of road cyclists start on the track, and plenty of track cyclists get started in BMX, which is demographicaly an ‘inner city’ sport, as that’s where the tracks tend to be
But we are only really looking here at something that has grown through lottery funding, so realistically since Beijing Olympics ?
All these things take time,Posted 3 years agoStoatsbrotherMember
Interesting – when I was first a cyclist – a Roadie – in the late 70’s, cycling was not really a middle-class sport at all. Club rides, cups of tea. York Rally etc etc
Now it’s MAMILs and carbon full-susser weekend warriors and most of my middle-class friends ride bikes.
So I suspect it is an aspirational thing and a demographic thing – and you’d think that manafacturers would be gagging to get to a new market.
I can see that for people with closer ties to Asia – it might have poverty connotations.Posted 3 years agoTom_W1987Member
I have Indian friends who again assume that bikes are for poor people. It’s funny, you can go down some pretty run down parts of London e.g. Perivale that are dominated by ethnic minorities and still find loads of new Mercs/Beemers parked outside their houses.
On the other hand, cycling for sport appears to be massively popular in the Philippines with the new middle classes judging by all the expensive road bikes and mountain bikes that I saw being ridden in Manila. They even have some downhillers on the world circuit….Perhaps it’s the American/Californian influence on the country.Posted 3 years agoGarry_LagerSubscriber
Interesting to hear people describe cycling as a middle class pursuit – mountain biking is obv a bit poncy but no way could you have said that about road cycling in the post-war years. Indelibly a sport of the working man.Posted 3 years ago
Would have thought those roots are still well represented in the road club scene, but don’t know – never done any club road riding.KlunkMember
to her it’s the poverty option and exactly the sort of thing she moved round the world and grafted her arse off to avoid. I don’t know how common that sort of mindset is but it’s pretty logical/understandable.
I have Indian friends who again assume that bikes are for poor people.
that’s also the perception of a lot of the local indigenous population regardless of race.Posted 3 years ago
I wonder whether it’s down to the fact that cycling isn’t promoted in schools and talented athletes are shepherded towards athletics, football, rugby etc – sports that are easily catered for in schools.
Again, drawing on my own experience, I wasn’t good at track/field/team sports as a child. So perhaps I was drawn to cycling (as a sport rather than just mucking about on my BMX) because it was something a bit different.
I was reading about Alex Dowsett in Michael Hutchinson’s book recently – he was picked out as a potential future star at school and had his talent cultivated. Perhaps if the school sports system allowed for this across the board, there would be a more racial split more consistent with society in general…Posted 3 years agothisisnotaspoonMember
Yup, look at London as the biggest city in the UK. The M25 has a radius of 15 miles, so that’s 15 miles from the ‘countryside’ even if you live in the square mile, then if you look at the map the city really stops about 10 miles from the center (arround Epsom, Harrow, Twickernham etc).
So that’s only a 5 mile radius circle in central London for which you could argue the countryside isn’t accessible within 5miles (and that doesn’t include access to the Parks and the road circuits).Posted 3 years agoMoreCashThanDashSubscriber
We used to have an annual criterium race in our 99% ethnically white, former mining village,located close to the BNP heartlands. Strangely, 10 years ago all the (white) kids in the village liked to try and talk in some sort of “black gangsta” street style in honour of their musical heroes.
I nearly died of shock and embarrassment when these same kids greeted a black rider at the event with monkey chants. It was like stepping back in time.
12 years on, the village has a slightly more diverse mix, and there are some non-white cyclists to be seen on tbe roads. Times are changing, but painfully slowlyPosted 3 years agomickmcdMember
i asked this question on V SALON and it got removed as some kind of racist slur
I know nowt about running a bike racing team but i sure would like to find some way of supporting african athletes with equipment who dont have access to the sport as costs are prohibitive from what I have read.
In a country where running shoes can be a luxury in do the math a bike to compete on? where do you get introduced to a sport if your from a less fortunate background
As endurance athletes the african nations are the best in the world without doubt but i often wonder how do we get them to cross over into cyclingPosted 3 years agoBigDummySubscriber
Nairo Quintana is a Colombian of non-European extraction. Like many Colombian riders, his family was not at all well off.
Colombia had a national tour and a vibrant racing scene for much of the 20th century, despite being horrendously poor and very underdeveloped. As a result, it has produced some really significant racers, and their example has created more.
Cycle sport is decades behind in Africa, but growing. When it has had a bit longer to mature there will be plenty of black African riders coming through. They will be popular with the big pro teams (as the Colombians have been) because they will be keen and relatively cheap.Posted 3 years ago
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