How Twitter Conquered the Tour de France

  • Share
  • Read Later
Lionel Bonaventure / AFP / Getty Images

The pack rides during the fourth stage of the 2011 Tour de France cycling race run between Lorient and Mur-de-Bretagne, western France, on July 5, 2011.

This post is in partnership with Worldcrunch, a new global-news site that translates stories of note in foreign languages into English. The article below was originally published in Le Monde.

More or less directed by the communication staff of their own team, the cyclists try to be informative or humorous. Some, like defending champion Alberto Contador of Spain, often make staff members tweet on their behalf.

Among the boldest twitterers, Manx racing cyclist Mark Cavendish posted after Philippe Gilbert's victory at Saturday's first stage of the Tour de France at the Mont des Allouettes: "Gilbert humbled everyone with the equivalence of pulling down his pants to reveal..." His profile description is clear: "Fast sprinter, faster talker. Disclaimer: May cause offense."

The cycling "tweetoshpere" particularly likes British humor. Two years ago, panic had spread after UK champion Bradley Wiggins posted he had revelations to make that would "shake the whole world of cycling!" It was a joke. Since then, the Olympic champion has distanced himself from Twitter.

The most hooked on the network is undoubtedly the very promising American talent Taylor Phinney, who isn't in this year's Tour. Lagging behind in the last stage of the Tour de Romandie, the cyclist described his last 100 meters on the stretch of Geneva asphalt by tweeting from his bike ... a real Live Report!

Still, some old timers still resist the Tweeter invasion. Jens Voigt, 39, the oldest cyclist of this year's Tour, has not yet created his Twitter profile. "Twitter is great when you want to communicate without anyone interfering. But I'm kind of reluctant in using it because I know that if you tweet while you're angry or in a hurry, it can be read all the way to China and it stays there forever! I am a little old-fashioned, I like paper, I need to hold something in my hands to make sure it's true."

Yet, the German cyclist remains one of the last not to have a Twitter page. The Scottish racer David Millar, 34, finally followed the flock. Last Sunday, he created his Twitter profile. "I know," says Voigt. "Stuart O'Grady did the same two days ago. These youngsters are putting me under pressure to create my own Twitter account. Eventually I will do it too."

For now, the "Boeing" just has a web page created by his fans,, on which his admirers give him credit for imaginary performances such as: "Jens Voigt has a handlebar on his Swiss Army Knife." To which he answers: "That's cool. I'm flattered. After all, we are all here to entertain people."

Also from Worldcrunch:

The Gambler: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, A Psychological Profile.
— Le Monde

The Libyan Diaspora And The War.
— Le Monde

Poland: Tragedies Of The Past, Hopes For The Future.
— Le Temps

"Germany and France Reach Greece Deal, but Problems Remain.")

"Cycling's Latest Scandal: Angry Contador Pleads Innocence.")