The cycling season of 2012 is officially on its way. Simon Gerrans has won the first WorldTour race of the season and Sep Vanmarcke the first semi-classic of the season. This automatically means that most of the team sites are up-to-date again. We all know that social media is playing a big role in cycling today. It’s becoming an easy way to get the latest information about your favorite race, rider or team. And more importantly, it is the way for riders to share their information with us, the fans. Still, it is interesting to notice that some sites give you all the information you long for and others hardly provide you with any information about riders, races and video material at all.
It gave us the idea to do a test. A test in order to find out which team has the most perfect site of all the cycling teams. In order to keep things structured and not too confusing, we will only take a look at the 18 UCI World Tour Teams of 2012. What makes a site perfect? Well, first of all, the front page of a site has to make a great first impression. It has to make you curious about other parts of the site and keep you entertained for more than just a few minutes. Secondly, every rider’s profile must be available. In a few clicks you should be able to reach the biography of your favorite rider of a particular team. Teams score extra points when they have a detailed biography on every rider. Thirdly, the media page. What the cycling follower wants is to easily get at the section with the photos, videos and other media of the team. A calendar and the results of the team have to be on the site as well. And finally, the site should be available in English, to make sure that every fan on this planet can understand it. The more languages a site has, the more points a team will receive from us. In total, teams can score ten plus signs (+) and if they do, they will earn a 10 for their site.
This Ride On! investigation started at the beginning of February, which meant that the cycling season had already started. It was the perfect time to check whether sites were ready for the new season or not. Teams who hadn’t published their calendar or photo gallery yet got a second chance. After two weeks we checked them again. However, one site wasn’t available for almost three weeks. Conclusion: it had been out of order for too long. They did apologize for the ‘inconvenience’ along with a nice photo of the team, but Lotto-Belisol, let’s be honest: we almost gave you zero points. Be prepared next time.
1. Front Page
A good front page shouldn’t be too overwhelming, have a readable font and all the information you need should only be one click away. The sites that lived up to these expectations received two plus signs. Nine out of the eighteen teams managed to meet these conditions. In our opinion the teams AG2R La Mondiale, Radioshack-Nissan and Team Sky were the ones with the best front page of all. All the other teams received one plus sign, except the Rabobank Cycling Team. Their site didn’t meet any of our front page conditions.
A profile of a rider should contain lots of information. It’s nice to know what the age, weight and residence of a rider are, but we want to know even more. The Movistar Team and Garmin-Barracuda exactly know how to do this. They have photos, videos, a life story and the results of the rider on all the profile pages. What more do we need? The Katusha Team did well too, with information about favorite movies, music and food. Other sites with two plus signs were Team Sky, Radioshack-Nissan and Omega Pharma-Quickstep. Eight teams received one plus sign and four teams did not have profiles of every rider on their site.
Most teams are aware of the big influence that (social) media has right now. That is why ten out of the eighteen sites score two plus signs. These sites have photos and videos from the latest races and the latest news. Some teams only have videos of big races, so they got no points for that part of the media. In our opinion, the Movistar Team has the best media page. It is easy to find the photos and videos on their site. Also, it is the only team which connected the results of a race to the photos and videos of that that race. That’s what we call professional.
4. Calendar and Results
Not many teams have put their results so precisely in order as AG2R La Mondiale. Results from every race, every rider who was there and every result of every rider of every day in that particular race. That is quite something to compete with. Surprisingly, a couple of teams did. Lampre-ISD, Team Sky and the Katusha Team have exactly the same order. The only difference is that AG2R La Mondiale’s list of races goes back to 2006.
Vacancoleil-DCM and the BMC Racing Team would be the winners of this investigation if we would only judge them on this point. Their sites have five different languages you can choose from. On the other hand, most teams have their site available in English and the language of their team’s country. Only FDJ-Big Mat is available in one language. It is not a surprise that this is French, because the team comes from France. However, these days it is not wise to only provide the cycling fans with one choice of language, because cycling is an international sport and every year it is getting attention from more countries around the world.
The final result is based on the table below. From these results we can conclude that Team Sky ends up with 9 plus signs, which means that they receive a 9 for their site. They exceeded our expectations and we think that other teams can learn from this site. Four teams have to share the second place with an 8: the Movistar Team, Katusha Team, Radioshack-Nissan and Lampre-ISD. They were the best of the rest and you can judge for yourself which team site you like best. It depends on the details and what you would consider to be the most important aspects. In our opinion, the Katusha Team came close to Team Sky. Two teams have to share the third place (if you can still call it that) with a 7: Liquigas-Cannondale and AG2R La Mondiale. Euskaltel-Euskadi and Team Saxo Bank both got a 5,5. To FDJ-Big Mat we would like to say: put a bit more effert into every aspect of the site and it will be ok. To the GreenEdge Cycling Team and Astana Pro Team: provide us with a proper profile of every rider and a nice calendar. And dear Rabobank Cycling Team: we are absolutely speechless. One of the best teams in the ranking of the UCI did not even manage to create a magnificent site. No profiles, not a good front page, it is way too hard to find the calendar and the photos are not put into order at all. Some advice: create a new site that is only focused on cycling and that has a Dutch and an English version.
Finally, we would like to emphasize that these results are just our opinion, but that we did try to be as objective as possible. Do you agree with us or do you have a different view on (some of) the team sites? Feel free to express your feelings. For us it was a great, long and funny experience and we really hope that by this time next year every team site will be amazing.