Victoria Pendleton Naked!

Yes, in this weekend’s Observer Sport Monthly. On her Trek road bike. There’s a peek at it on Cycling Weekly’s Tuesday comment piece:

Pendleton poses nude and the demise of the Archer

Their take on it seems to be that she can make her own choices and has done so. It’s a line they take in reference to Richard Williams in the Guardian who questions why she has to strip off under the strapline “Pendleton gets dragged into a vicious cycle”:

“Victoria Pendleton is a terrific athlete and an impressive woman but a world champion track cyclist, even a drop-dead gorgeous one, should have no need to broaden her appeal by stripping off for next Sunday’s Observer Sports Magazine.”

Cycling Weekly seems to in some way endorse this view saying that:

“It’s just that it’s hard to imagine the editor of OSM pitching the idea of a nude shoot with Chris Hoy or Bradley Wiggins or many other male athletes. ”

The comment piece ends with “… there is a nagging regret that female sports stars are still being asked to strip off”.

Which would all be a fair comment to make but for one thing: the shot is a very, very obvious homage to a very,very well known cycling image which also features a world class athlete, at the top of the sport of cycling, naked on a Trek bike.

Are we really expected to believe that both Lionel Birnie and Richard Williams wrote their articles and got them past the editor’s desk without anyone even so much as raising a hand to point out that the image is in every way a visual tribute to

Annie Leibovitz’s iconic portrait of Lance Armstrong

which was done for Vanity Fair and which echoes her most iconic image of a naked John Lennon next to Yoko Ono.

A Google image search for “Leibovitz Armstrong Portrait” puts the two images right next to each other. Would it have been so difficult for these two writers to have spotted the connection between the Pendleton portrait and Armstrong’s and seen the significance of the visual message being conveyed?

If either Lionel or Richard would care to respond I am happy to publish their response as right of reply.

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