Texts, Twitter and Social Media Help CyclingNews.com Keep its Fans at the Front of the Pack

CyclingNews.com's Laura Weislo working hard at the Tour of California press room. Credit: James Raia.

Cycling fans are as passionate as any sport’s followers, and no one knows more about how following the sport has changed than Laura Weislo, the North America editor of CyclingNews.com.

Weislo is coordinating the site’s stage coverage of the Amgen Tour of California. The eight-day race, the largest in the United States, features 128 cyclists from 16 teams and riders who are Olympic medalists, Tour de France stage winners and world titlists.

In addition to daily in-depth articles on the race, CyclingNews.com, the world’s largest English language cycling site, is providing live text at least every five minutes from all of the eight stages. The seventh annual race, which began May 13 in Santa Rosa, will continue through its Los Angeles finish May 20.

The site also has a Facebook page with about 70,000 fans and an equally active Twitter following.

“Bike races now are completely different,” said Weislo, a former competitive swimmer and cyclist who joined the site in 2006. “We find that people are out there watching live streaming. They’re on Twitter on their computers. They’re looking at our live coverage. They are using that altogether and they’re having a conversation at the same time with all their followers or fans.”

At the Tour of California, CyclingNews.com has a reporter in the media caravan of the race and others who on the course reporting the news to editors who post the updates.

Weislo and other reporters and photographers contribute results, news and images shortly after each stage is complete and then additional details after conducting post-race interviews.

CyclingNews.com reports on the sport globally, but selects its live coverage depending upon an event’s anticipated popularity.

“When I started in 2006 we didn’t use social media,” said Weislo. “It was about a year or two in we realized we better get in on this Facebook thing. Now it’s really important to direct people to specific stories and other content, so they don’t have to check the web site all the time to see if there’s something new. We inform them, and it’s actually a pretty big driver of traffic to the website.”

CyclingNews.com live reports are not a new concept, but Weislo believes how cycling fans follow the sport has substantially changed in the past year.

“Everyone used to be sort of isolated,” Weislo explained. “There wasn’t really a way for people to converse about what was going. But now I have close to 3,000 Twitter followers. It makes it more interesting and I think it’s happened in the last year.

“I noticed last year that there was a little bit of that. But now we get people commenting about our live coverage. People get the information from us and then they correct each other on things that happen in the race. It does add to the conversation of what’s going on.”