L’Ardoisière sounds much better in French than English and translates as “Blackboard Woman”. For years time gaps in bike races have been communicated by the simple use of chalk on a blackboard held up to the riders from a motorbike.
In recent years the motorbike’s been less important with the use of radio radios but it’s remained a useful publicity vehicle.
Now the blackboard is going away and Paris-Nice this weekend will see an electronic display used on the back of a motorbike. It’s already been tested in the Tour of Portugal and the system is designed by Portuguese firm Full Sport.
I’m sad about this. This is one of those little things that make cycling special. To see that chalkboard can either be a blessing or a curse for a rider, depending on the time written on it. This coupled with race radio is not good.
Goodbye Blackboard Women. I always wanted to be one.
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