I want to ride my bicycle….
It’s taken me a few days to recover from the brilliant finale to the Tour de France, but as excitement starts up again for the Men’s road race at the Olympics this Saturday (the 28th) I couldn’t not write a piece on the incredible effort from the British riders in this years’ tour.
Hats off to David Millar, Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins; all achieved stage wins, some more than once. It really was a shout out to the cycling world that Britain on the roads means business now to add to their track success.
Added to that Mark Cavendish is now 4th in the all-time list of stage victories, winning three more this year to take his total up to 23. What’s even more incredible is that he’s managed that despite not having a team set up to help him, despite him often working as a domestique for Bradley Wiggins. He’s shown that he can be a complete team player and he was rewarded for his effort in his last two stage victories by having Bradley Wiggins lead him out for the stage end to set up a sprint finish that the Manx Missile, as ever excelled at.
I honestly cannot recall ever seeing the yellow jersey leading out a sprint rider before, and not just any sprint rider – the world champion! It was a glorious sight to behold, especially on the Champs Elysees and it is easily one of the stand-out moments of the tour. It is an iconic sporting image that is going to go down in history as one of the greatest moments in British sport.
And I’ve made only passing reference to Bradley Wiggins, but what he’s achieved is nothing short of phenomenal. The feat of even completing the Tour is one that is incredible. To cycle 2,172 miles over three weeks, at speeds averaging over 25mph, chuck in monstrous mountain stages that most people would struggle to walk up then the mind literally boggles. How anyone, let alone over 150 men, can manage to finish it, is difficult to comprehend.
The sheer effort and will to win exerted by Wiggins and his team to achieve this victory is something to be applauded and celebrated. The course was ideal for Wiggins as it included three stages that were his speciality – the time trial. That said, the time he took out of his opponents was simply incredible. Considering the previous 98 attempts at this race, the best a British athlete had achieved was 4th, this victory for British cycling is going to live long in the memory.
And people should not forget the exceptional performance from Chris Froome. His 2nd place, which is a superb feet in itself, has been overshadowed by Wiggins’ victory, but it deserves celebrating in its own right. This man has shown exceptional talent and team ethics and he is without a doubt going to be a yellow jersey contender at some point in the future. It will be interesting to see whether the stays with Team Sky or seeks out another team that will have him as its leader, he definitely has the talent deserving of this.
This year’s tour had so many standout moments but for me to go alongside Wiggins leading Cavendish out, my best moment was when Thomas Voeckler won stage 16. This capped off two days’ effort in the Pyrenees where he ultimately topped 7 massive summits first and held out on a breakaway by himself to clinch one of the toughest stage victories I have seen. In doing so he secured himself the King of the Mountains jersey. This man is such a tenacious and likable character, it was a delight to see him rewarded for his hard work, even more so after he came so agonizingly close to getting a podium place in last year’s tour.
So, another Tour de France is over, and again history has been made. If you’re British, this really is one to savour, and here’s hoping it cements the cycling revolution of this nation. The Men’s road race on Saturday is going to be a very good place for our British athletes to continue building on our cycling success, and I for one can’t wait for it.