I don’t generally buy cycling sport magazines. I love watching cycle racing on the TV, and listening to podcasts about it, and even talking about it with my (woefully ill-informed) mates. But I don’t buy magazines about it unless something particularly interesting catches my eye. Sometimes I’ll buy one that has a Grand Tour preview in it (although they’re always out of date by the time they publish them), or a preview of the Spring Classics, but generally I don’t even bother reading the cover-lines. Why?
BECAUSE THEY ARE EYE-WATERINGLY, GUT-WRENCHINGLY, BALL-CRUSHINGLY DULL. And I actually LIKE pro cycling!
I genuinely don’t know who Pro Cycling and Cycle Sport are aimed at. Is it pro riders who want to read about themselves and their mates? Is it Cat 3 riders hoping to pick up a few tips? Is it wannabe MAMILs who fondly imagine that a 65 mile sportive is actually a race? If anyone cares to leave a comment below about why they buy either of these mags, I’d be interested to hear, because it’s a genuine mystery to me.
Anyway, the December issues of Pro Cycling and Cycle Sport are out, and a veritable snooze-fest they are too. Pro Cycling looks and feels the most stylish of the two, especially with World Champ Lizzie Armitstead on the cover, picked out in spot-varnish. It’s a striking image that caught my eye in the newsagent’s (but I hate cut-outs…it doesn’t matter how good you are with Photoshop, cut-outs always look shite if someone’s hair is involved…it just never looks right). And the World Champ’s jersey still has the wrong UCI logo on it!
Cycle Sport is physically smaller than Pro Cycling, and feels more ephemeral. Pro Cycling you might consider putting on a shelf and keeping, Cycle Sport is destined for the bin after a week (hour?) or two.
The features about Armitstead and Sagan’s World Champs victories were both interesting, mostly because they weren’t done as rider interviews and contained plenty of interesting analysis. But the rest of the magazine is pretty tedious. There’s a piece about how Sky are the bestest team ever ever, and it’s all down to the glorious British backbone so fuck off Johnny Foreigner. And it’s a crappy Q&A. Kennaugh and Stannard actually went down in my estimation after this piece.
Then there’s an odd article on riders who turned pro in the 1990s and who are still plying their trade today. Warning, this article may contain dopers (Rebellin, Basso, Petacchi, etc). This is followed by a piece on Taylor Phinney (yawn), Lieuwe Westra (yawn), Sylan Chavanel (feels like an obituary even though he isn’t quite dead yet) and a moderately intesting look behind the scenes of the Tour of Britain with the IAM. The Eagle of Toledo piece is nice, though.
God’s teeth! There’s another article about making the rainbow jersey (with the wrong UCI logo). Sportful’s PR team has been doing an excellent job of getting this story out there. The big feature, and I mean BIG!, is the 100 Best Riders Right Now feature. It goes on. And on. And on and on and on and on and on. There are 39 pages of this… give me strength! On second thoughts, fast-forward to page 84, where you’ll find a 10-page piece about Mikel Landa (yawn).
Really the only piece worth reading is the one about Boswell and Dombrowski’s impressions of their first Grand Tour. It’s well written, insightful and interesting.
Of the two, Pro Cycling feels the better produced and offers a more interesting read. But neither of them is on my must-buy list. I get far more insight and entertainment from the Velocast and Telegraph cycling podcasts.