The strange invisibility of Rui Costa

Rui Costa

As an American, I’m used to seeing my countryfolk focused on and featured in various international athletic events. Eurosport and British coverage of such events always make sure to put the camera on American competitors as well as those of other nationalities, even when the Americans aren’t doing all that well. Apparently, we get coverage by virtue of our citizenship.

At least, that’s my guess, because it’s the only thing that explains the strange invisibility of Rui Costa on every Tour de France he has taken part in.

For those not into cycling, let me explain. Rui Costa is the pride of Portuguese bike enthusiasts and an all-around great rider. He’s currently the national road race champion, and last year he was the world road race champion—the first Portuguese to wear that rainbow jersey. He is the only cyclist to ever win the Tour de Suisse in three consecutive years (2012, 2013, 2014). He won a stage in the Tour de France in 2011, and then won two more in 2013. Right now, he is ranked fourth in the International Cycling Union (UCI) men’s road cycling. Here are the top 20, including many names you’ll recognize if you watch bike racing.

2015 UCI standings

All of which is to say, this man is a star in the international racing scene.

Yet we don’t see him in the video coverage of the Tour de France. The cameras almost never focus on him. The official Tour news updates don’t mention him. Non-Portuguese news coverage doesn’t mention him. I read several articles yesterday about the massive crash during Stage 3, which listed the riders who were injured. Rui was inexplicably left out, despite having had a bike smash into his back at 50 kph after he had hit the tarmac and slid to a stop…and despite being clearly visible on video trying to get up in the aftermath. Though of course the cameras never actually stopped on him.

We play a game of “spot Rui” while watching the Tour. It’s always a challenge, because he’s usually visible for one or two seconds as the camera pans over the riders. But I can’t figure out why we should have to work so hard for it, and why such a top rider is so generally ignored.

Maybe it’s because he doesn’t grandstand. Nor does he throw his bike after a disappointment, or get in fights, or shout at the tour organizers in their cars when they make a decision he doesn’t like. Instead, he focuses on doing his best and staying in contact with his fans, to whom he invariably dedicates his efforts. He’s a true gentleman athlete…and I guess that’s not exciting enough.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
This entry was posted in Portugal, sport. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The strange invisibility of Rui Costa

  1. Cathy White says:

    My paper mentioned him. The Daily Telegraph sports section gives good coverage to the Tour and lots of the cycling. I hadn’t realised that the guy who fractured two vertebrae remounted and cycled another 34 miles! He wanted the yellow jersey to finish the stage.Wow, they really are in a class of their own. Compare them to footballers who bleat when their personal space is breached.

    • Hats off to your paper! And you’re right about cyclists being tough…way tougher than footballers. An over-the-handlebars crash on asphalt at 50 kph is the stuff of nightmares for me.

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