‘More than disappointed, I’m quite angry’ – Tour peloton misses the memo and moment on anti-racism
‘Has professional cycling missed the memo and the moment?’ Rob Hatch and Dan Lloyd question the underwhelming promised display of solidarity with anti-racism sentiments at the start of the final stage of the Tour de France.
Team Vital Concept Cycling Club rider France's Kevin Reza waits prior to the 21st and last stage of the 107th edition of the Tour de France cycling race, 122 km between Mantes-la-Jolie and Champs Elysees Paris, on September 20, 2020
Published 20/09/2020 at 15:24 GMT | Updated 20/09/2020 at 18:24 GMT
Rob Hatch and Dan Lloyd react to the underwhelming promised display of solidarity with anti-racism sentiments at the start of the final stage of the Tour.
Tour de France riders were expected to show solidarity with anti-racism messages at the start of the final stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, but the paucity of the gesture was striking.
Leading journalists reported news of an expected stance, with Orla Chennoui saying: “I understand the peloton will make some sort of gesture today against racism. Sounds like it was a rider-initiated move, in conjunction with the CPA. Announcement to be made before the stage.”
And Daniel Friebe of the Cycling Podcast and ITV backed up those reports, saying: “Kevin Réza will lead the Tour out of Mantes-la-Jolie later, alongside the jersey wearers, as the local boy and also to honour the Black Lives Matter movement, ASO say.”
However, aside from a select group of riders writing anti-racist messages on their masks before the stage, there was no sign of a clear stand during the roll-out when the television cameras were rolling, with Kevin Réza left largely on his own during the opening kilometres.
“We’re shocked because at this point in the lead-out we were expecting to be talking about something a little bit different,” said Eurosport commentator Rob Hatch. "We had been led to believe that there was going to be a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. We know that Kevin Réza is a local rider here in Mantes la Jolie and he was going to lead them out.
“We saw a few little bits of writing on masks, always welcome of course, things like ‘No to Racism’ and a few slogans, but I haven’t seen any solidarity shown. I saw Kevin Réza looking quite an alone figure near the front, just a few of his French friends chatting to him.
I know that our colleague Orla Chennaoui did try to get in touch with a few of the teams and ask if they’d record a video for what we might be expected to see today, a few messages. She was politely knocked back on each occasion.
"And aside from a word hearing that Nicolas Roche and Luke Rowe tried to organise something today, I have to say that I’m pretty indignant, angry, disgusted that nobody has shown solidarity with the man at the front (Réza) at all.
“Whatever way they wish to do it, whether that be taking a knee or not, we were led to believe that something was happening, but it looks as though – unless they’re going to pleasantly surprise us now – that the moment has passed.
Van Aert on #NoToRacism: I wrote this message in the biggest letters I could, we need to show unity
“Everybody was there at the start with the public around them, what an image that would have been in Mantes la Jolie.
“Take nothing away from Pogacar and his team’s celebrations. But we are waiting and we desperately hope that something will happen.
Kevin Réza briefly came to the front, looked pretty well alone… I have to say I’m more than disappointed, I’m quite angry with that.
Co-commentator Dan Lloyd followed up on those comments, saying: “I think everybody has been waiting for some show of solidarity amongst the pro peloton since day one of this year’s Tour de France, as people have done in other sports, other athletes across other sports. We’ve seen it in so many different areas of sport since competition resumed, and we haven’t really seen it in cycling.
“Rumours were circulating overnight and this morning that finally the bunch are going to get together and show their solidarity. We haven’t seen that, apart from a few slogans on some facemasks. Nothing has happened so far.”