Strava and the Olympics
As the Olympic Games approach I want to investigate an interesting question – can athletes post their Olympic cycling performances on Strava? Will they?
Strava posts from top cycling races have become a new and fascinating way for fans to follow and relate to racing. Niki Terpstra posted his winning ride in the 2014 Paris-Roubaix along with twelve other competitors from that event. About a dozen riders were posting daily from this year’s Tour de France. At the Tour of California this year, about 50 riders were posting their rides on Strava.
At the 2015 World Championships in Richmond, Virginia about 12 women and 56 men posted the road race on Strava. Like the Olympics, the UCI World Championships are contested by national, not trade teams.
In contrast, very few athletes posted the 2012 London Olympic Road Race (of course, Strava was less pervasive then). Among the women, only Ashleigh Moolman Pasio and Junatip Maneephan posted. Niki Terpstra was the only rider to post the men’s road race. (All three of these activities have been flagged on Strava, though most racing performances are not).
The IOC’s official social media policy is as paternalistic and draconian as you’d imagine, but it’s also pretty old-fashioned in the way it things about media – it refers directly to “photographs, video and audio”. There’s nothing that suggests that a GPS record of an athlete’s own efforts would be forbidden (and of course, even if it were, brave athletes could defy the ban). The General Principals section states that, “It is entirely acceptable for accredited persons to share their experience at the Games through internet or any other type of social and digital media…” – that’s a pretty good start.
Some riders that I’ve talked to have said that national teams discourage riders from posting on Strava, but I can’t provide evidence of that claim.
So athletes, please post your Olympic rides to Strava! Coaches, please support them. We, the fans, love it. It gives us all a unique, personal perspective on what it takes to be an Olympian, and it allows you to tell your own story unfiltered by television or traditional media.