As the name suggests, Neutral Service aims to provide a service to women’s cycling. That service is to act as a central hub, something that has not previously existed in the sport, bringing together race previews, coverage and reports, news on the riders and their teams and any other news concerning women’s cycling.
What Neutral Service is definitely not is “Matrix-Vulpine news” (if you want that, click here). Women’s racing, as can be seen in the enormous success and popularity of the women’s races at the Olympics, at the 2013 World Road Racing Championships and at all of the televised track cycling events over the last few years, has a vast potential audience and the mainstream press is beginning to realise that, giving the sport some coverage. Unfortunately, they can’t increase that coverage without proving to their finance departments and advertisers that such an audience exists – and they can’t prove that it exists without putting out the material and seeing how many people watch or view it. By creating our own content we can break that vicious circle, making it much easier to be a fan and helping women’s cycling to develop and become the sport it has always had the potential to be. A revolution has already begun, with fans creating the coverage the sport needs; Neutral Service aims to be a point where other fans, old and new, can access that information.
But it’s part of Matrix-Vulpine, which is a team, right?
Nope. Neutral Service isn’t part of Matrix-Vulpine, though it does exist as part of Matrix-Vulpine’s website (if you follow women’s cycling and know much about Matrix-Vulpine, you’ll know that the team has for many years been dedicated to promoting the sport and supporting its development). Blogs by Matrix-Vulpine riders and team officials may be published here from time to time, but otherwise there is no link between the team and Neutral Service.
What can I do?
Well, what do you do? Are you a writer, a photographer or simply someone who likes to watch cycling events and can describe what you’ve seen? Perhaps you’ve become friendly with some of the riders, directeurs sportif or other team officials at the races you go to, or even on Twitter and Facebook, and could put together an interview? Maybe you just have strong ideas about the future of the sport, where it should be heading and what the UCI can do to make sure it gets there? Do you live near a race and can supply local knowledge about the parcours (you know about a corner where, whenever it’s been raining, there’s an ultra-slippery puddle of oily water and spilled diesel? Believe me, the riders would like to know about that too)? If you’re a rider – at any level, from novice having your first go at racing to top-flight professional – we’d absolutely love to publish a guest blog from you.
That’s what we need – your content.
Don’t worry if English isn’t your strongpoint or it’s your second language (unless you’re Dutch or Flemish of course, in which case you probably speak better English than most English people do), because we can tidy things up (or even translate them) prior to publication.
What’s in the future?
It’s early days, so we have a lot of half-formed ideas floating around at present, but wo things we’re currently looking into is the possibility of a ticker displaying live text-based coverage from fans attending races and a photo competition. The ticker would work exactly like those already provided by other websites at major events such as the Grand Tours, Paris-Roubaix and so on, but the information on it would be provided by one or more fans at the race. The photo competition would be an ongoing thing, probably based around a number of selected races taking place each year; with some sort of prize (hey, we’re on a tight budget here so don’t expect a top-of-the-range Pinarello or anything like that, but we’ll try to make it something nice).
Who owns my content?
You do, but we’ll be publishing all material under the terms of the Creative Commons licence (you can read all about Creative Commons here). What that means is that you retain ownership, but your material can be used freely by anyone provided they attribute it to you – the aim, after all, is to increase awareness of the sport. However, if you want to provide material under a different licence, we would like to publish it under your terms.”