A fool once said, ‘There’s no such thing as bad publicity’. If he or she were around today, they would do well to take the views of the creditors of Cambridge Analytica.
While it has not been sunk by its own recent data leak (that of Chris Froome’s run-in with Salbutamol, let slip by loose lips), the sport of road cycling has nevertheless endured its fair share of bad PR in recent times.
Yet despite its travails, cycling’s blue riband event – the Tour de France – climbed almost to the top of our YouGov SportsIndex Buzz league in 2016. Some in the industry assumed it was a one-off showing yet the race improved on this performance a year later with a top four finish which put it ahead of traditional favourites like the FA Cup and English test cricket. (See our table below).
But what effect has the Froome furore had on the fortunes of this year’s Tour?
Well, as we’ve seen before on these pages, sports properties can be incredibly resilient beasts, often displaying the ‘bounce-back-ability’ quality that Iain Dowie first described in his Crystal Palace side. And, although it’s still early days, it looks like the Tour de France is no different.
Our graph below charts Buzz around the property amongst cycling fans since the start of 2016. Since Buzz is a net score of those hearing positive news about a property minus those hearing negative news, it’s possible for an event to see a negative score. That’s something which the Tour has experienced both while the Sky jiffy bag/Wiggins steroid stories unfolded and in the run-up to this year’s event as Froome’s future participation was uncertain.
Yet on both occasions the Tour has gone on to stage a stirring comeback with British cycling fans, no doubt stoked by the success of Froome last year and anticipating his continued success in this edition.
The only potential bad new comes when you overlay Tour de France Buzz amidst the general public (see above). It has yet to replicate previous years’ peaks but at this stage in the proceedings, we wouldn’t necessarily have expected it to, as per experience in previous years. Once it starts looking a profile of Alpe d’Huez, we can be sure that the Tour will have staged a full recovery.