Yesterday was all about SRAM’s new Red eTap AXS 12-speed wireless drivetrain, the technical release is exciting but I think there’s also something to be said for how SRAM decided to advertise the new groupset. Or, more frankly, who they chose to headline the announcement.
Featured in all of SRAM’s presentations to media and on its initial social media was an image of a black woman riding riding an S-Works frame kitted out with the new groupset. That’s notable.
The sport is just coming off a low. It’s only been a couple weeks since Iljo Keisse and four of his Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mates stopped at a cafe, where they were asked by a waitress for a photo and this happened:
Keisse mimicked a sex act behind the waitress and allegedly touched her inappropriately. She filed a complaint with the cops. Keisse apologized and the Vuelta a San Juan organizers ejected him from the race. It should have ended there.
Instead, Deceuninck boss Patrick Lefevere hinted that the woman was after money. The team boycotted the podium ceremony. Then Keisse’s father suggested that the woman was to blame.
That episode was a painful reminder of just how behind the times cycling remains. The outdoor industry is 88% white, 80% of bike commuters are white, the WorldTour peloton is almost entirely white, and women’s racing continues to be sidelined or at best seen as an afterthought. Additionally, bike and component prices continue to skyrocket creating vast economic gaps in accessibility to riding and competition. All told, there’s far too much old-school thinking and white male privilege dominating the sport.
So, seeing a black female athlete appear all over SRAM’s most important product launch in years was relieving. Maybe this fire can spread and cycling can finally figure out how to evolve and attract more diverse riders. There certainly isn’t anything to lose, but I think we all have a lot to gain.