Giro is starting today ! A race that Laura Meseguer, TV reporter for Eurosport Spain, will cover ! Recently, TeamSportEco had the good luck to meet her and learn more about this determined and passionate journalist.
Hi Laura, we know you as a TV reporter for Eurosport Spain. Can you tell us a bit more about yourself? Where are you from? What is your background? How did you discover cycling?
I grew up in Argentina and Chile. My father was the local manager of the Spanish Press Agency (EFE) over there. I then did media studies in Spain, I didn’t learn about one thing in particular but instead a bit of everything. Then I started working for the TV department at EFE in Madrid.
I discovered cycling by coincidence in 2007 when I got the opportunity to work for the communication department of a big company. This company became the sponsor of the Gold Jersey of La Vuelta a España and as part of my job I had to go the event. I had no idea what to expect. My family didn´t watch it a lot and because I grew up in countries where cycling was not so popular, what made it difficult for me to know anything about this sport. For example, at first I thought that La Vuelta a España was more of a popular event than a professional one.
I had to quickly learn the basics about cycling. I asked everyone lots of questions (cyclists, journalists, etc.). I had no idea how hard this sport was. For someone that doesn´t know much about it, cycling is pretty impressive! The fact that riders have to race for 21 consecutive days and hundreds of kilometers everyday seemed to be out of everyone´s capacities! That was just unbelievable to me.
« I wanted to work with people that inspire me so much. »
As a result, I discovered the values and the essence of the sport. I appreciate the notions of efforts, sacrifice and commitment. So I thought to myself: “I think I have found my place, I want to work with people that inspire me so much.”
I continued working at this company but I kept learning about cycling by myself and I went to lots of races. During summer 2008, I decided to quit my job to really try to pursue my dream of working in cycling. It was slow progress until 2012, the year when I started working for Eurosport. I continued learning a lot, going to races and opportunities in journalism and communications started coming in little by little. I collaborated with a few magazines and I think my work was seen by some people at Eurosport who decided to give me this opportunity.
Could you tell us more about your job as a reporter for Eurosport?
Normally I only cover the two big races of the year: Le Tour de France and La Vuelta a España. But this year I will also cover The Giro.
A typical day of a “Grand Tour” usually starts in the morning when I interview the riders and their managers before the start. I ask them how they feel, about their thoughts of the previous day and what their next steps are (even if they don’t normally tell you anything!). These interviews are then shown on television throughout the stage.
Then I have to rush to the finish line. These journeys really kill you. You spend a lot of time in the car, the weather is often very hot and you have to be ready to go live when the riders arrive at the finish line.
The interviews I do at the finish line are part of the live post-race show when Eurosport journalists and experts arrive at the end of the race. You really have to chase after the riders!
It is three intensive weeks and I always need a full week to recover after each race! During La Vuelta or The Giro, you usually finish later than during Le Tour de France. You’re never back at your hotel before 10 but you still have some energy. When you cover Le Tour de France, you get back earlier (around 8) but you are really dead! I really enjoy my job and the races but it is never relaxing!
How is the Eurosport brand helping you?
Eurosport opens a lot of doors because we are present in so many countries. It is easier to spread a global message because we have a lot of channels to communicate. For comparison, for my first Tour de France, I was not with Eurosport and it was really hard to cover the race! I have seen the difference between with and without Eurosport!
Has the purchase by Discovery changed anything in your daily work?
They are going to change a lot of things. The main focus is now on fans and viewers, everything will revolve around them. Discovery has invested a lot in order to cover more sports and more competitions. They have planned many TV shows about them and they have also invested in social media. Change is coming but it is good change!
What do you do between each race? We know you’re a busy girl!
My job at Eurosport allows me to do other things, especially between each race. I like writing, I never want to stop. That’s why I continue contributing to different magazines (Soigneur, Cycling Illustrated, CycleSport, Peloton, etc.). I also work as a communications officer for Eroica, the vintage sportive sportswear brand, or for events like Mallorca 312 – Giant – Taïwan or City Mountainbike in Belgium. Last year, I was also the Master of Ceremony at the UCI Cycling Gala in Abu Dhabi.
I also contribute in a documentary about the Cycling Academy, the first israeli cycling team, which rides the same route in Toscana that Gino Bartali used to ride to save Jews during World War II.
You have lots of followers on Twitter and Instagram. How do you use social networks?
I use Twitter for professional reasons. You can find a lot of useful information and it is very easy to follow riders. The problem is that you are always connected and sometimes I need to be disconnected. I use Facebook a little bit less and for more professional purposes as well.
Instagram is more of a personal thing. I love photography and I like to look at pictures of different places. When someone tells me about something, I like to form my own idea about it. Instagram is not part of the job, it’s just for fun.
« If Spanish Television offers me to cover football, I would say no. »
What are your plans for the future?
I love what I’m doing! If you had asked me in 2007 if I would be here today, I would have said no. They are many good journalists, so why me? It is much more than I have ever dreamt. I am aware of the great opportunity I have being at Eurosport, being able to write in magazines and conduct my own projects, etc. I cannot think of any better position right now!
It is now common to see women covering sports in Spain and all over the world. What I like about Eurosport is that they don’t focus on the woman but on the journalist behind the woman. They treat you as an expert and they’re always interested in hearing everyone´s opinions and ideas. For all these reasons, I would like to stay with Eurosport. I only know cycling and I like journalism. The goal is not to be famous. If Spanish Television offers me a job tomorrow covering football, I would say no. It’s not my thing.
What are relationships like with the riders?
We spend a lot of time with the riders. We’ve known each other very well for many years. Eurosport is a channel which covers the whole cycling season, not just the big races. I think, at least, riders prefer to speak and spend time with journalists that they have already met.
For my part, I also manage to speak with these riders longer when I have interviewed them for magazines. It is easier to get a better picture of their feelings than at the end of a race when you only get one minute with each of them!
Some of the best riders to interview are Purito Rodriguez, Mark Cavendish and Fabian Cancellara. He normally gets to the point and delivers a relevant analysis of the daily race in one minute! French riders are shyer but Thibault Pinot is always easy to talk to and relaxed.
I have also started learning Italian and French over the last year. I think it may help the riders be more confident when they speak with me! It is also useful for life!
Who are your favorite riders?
I like aggressive and brave riders like Valverde, Nibali or Rodriguez but one of my favourite has to be Peter Sagan. He keeps surprising me. I could say that I’ve seen him grow up. When he speaks about life, even off the record, his answers are always so logical, smart and simple. This guy is unbelievable!
Which race do you prefer covering?
If you ask riders which race they prefer, they would all probably say The Giro. Everything in Italy is very beautiful! There are wonderful landscapes. All the cities are decorated in pink, people like cycling a lot and the food is amazing!
But everyone wants to take part in Le Tour de France. As a journalist or a rider you want to be there. It’s where everything happens and it has the world’s attention.
Otherwise personally, La Vuelta a España is very special because I’m home.
But despite all this, if I had to choose one it would have to be Le Tour de France.
Last year, Alejandro Valverde had a successful season. However, only one Spanish team, Movistar, started at Le Tour de France. Today there is only one in the continental category (Caja Rural). Does this mean that the popularity of Spanish cycling is decreasing? What about the young Spanish generation?
It’s terrible. Why? It’s because of money … There is not enough structure to guide the young riders to the professional level. Therefore it is a lot harder to succeed, even if the emergence of a « one of a kind » rider like Sagan in Slovakia is always possible. Someone told me a few years ago « Don’t worry, after Indurain, we thought everything was over. And Valverde, Rodriguez and Contador emerged.” I’m optimistic, there are some new talents. For example, two young Spanish riders recently won Le Tour de L’Avenir (2013 & 2015). And we have Landa! Let´s see how far he can get!
But the best Spanish riders often ride for non-Spanish teams? Essentially in countries where cycling is a relatively new sport (Russia, Kazakhstan). What do you think about this?
I think it’s life, no? In these teams there is a lot of Spanish or Italian culture because staff and riders come from these countries. It is a mix of cultures and nations. Sometimes with all these new teams, you miss the point of where cycling is going. However, as long as things are done correctly, this is still a good thing for cycling.
In Spain Movistar is guiding all the Spanish talents but it is still difficult. We need more teams. I remember when I started working in cycling, there were so many teams and riders. They just aren’t there anymore. It is really sad. Many riders lost the opportunity to continue cycling. But I’m optimistic, there are some new talents.
« Doping is not a nice topic for a journalist. »
As a cycling reporter, how do you cope with all the suspicion and rumours about doping?
It is not a nice topic. I think cycling is growing and new generations are working on having a cleaner sport. It is difficult to talk about. When a rider is positive, he quickly disappears. I would like to listen to his side of the story and not just the official team press releases. It is really a bad thing about cycling. We need to be very clear otherwise people will continue to think cyclists are doping!
Who will win this year’s Tour de France?
I´m curious about what Alberto Contador can do. It would be great for the spanish fans if he wins. I would also like to see Nairo Quintana winning. It can be something really big in Colombia! Movistar is going to have a very strong team with Valverde and Dani Moreno among others. It will be interesting also to see the head to head between Dani Moreno and Joaquim Rodríguez.