Cycling Civility

As Chris Froome struggled with a broken bike on a hill during the most grueling stage of the Tour de France on Sunday his closest competitors slowed down so as not to take advantage of his misfortune.

“I want to say thank you to the other riders for not attacking,” Froome said. “They waited until I had changed bikes. That’s sporting and pleasing to see.”

Chris Froome

We’ll say it is. What happens in sports is just a reflection of the general society, but it’s also probably fair to say that society — especially impressionable kids — can often take its cues from what they see in professional athletes.

The NFL is the worst in this regard with players celebrating and taunting their opponents for things that weren’t even counted in previous years, like quarterback sacks. And the league recently announced that it’s actually loosening the rules for touchdown celebrations.

Baseball still retains a lot of unwritten rules. For example, when a player hits a home run he shouldn’t pump his fist as he circles the bases or, for that matter, even stop and watch the ball go over the fence. But in baseball a hitter knows that what goes around comes around. If he celebrates too much next time he sees the same pitcher he may find a fastball in his ear.

And, in truth, the same sort of thing can happen in cycling. Froome was accused of throwing a shoulder at rival Fabio Aru because he thought Aru had taken advantage of his breakdown, though Froome denies it and Aru said he had not seen Froome’s signal of distress.

Still, what happened the other day in professional cycling sends a good message to any aspiring young competitors who were watching and to the rest of us who just long for a little more civility and a little less cut throat in life.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Director Emeritus

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

One thought on “Cycling Civility

  1. Well stated, Dave.
    This event at the TDF was a great example of sportsmanship and ethical behavior in a sport that has not been perceived as too ethical in years past. Thanks for posting!

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