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Why cycling should be Britain’s National Sport

Photo: Bradley Wiggins - 2012 Tour de France by Josh Hallett ( CC BY-SA 2.0 ).
Bradley Wiggins leads out Mark Cavendish on the final stage of the 2012 Tour de France, which Cavendish went on to win in what is widely considered one of his greatest stage wins. Photo: Bradley Wiggins – 2012 Tour de France by Josh Hallett (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Another sporting year is almost up. Come late September the buzz of the Olympics and Paralympics will have worn off and our sporting focus will once again turn to the long-awaited rugby Autumn Internationals, Aviva Premiership and of course the football Premier League. Nostalgic people will look to reflect on the British sporting year and may comment on our failures. Yet, as always, one sport shall be totally overlooked and perhaps not recognised as a national sport… Cycling.

This year, like many before, British cycling fans can look back in satisfaction knowing that once again we nailed it! A third Tour de France victory for Chris Froome, along with 7 stage wins and once again an Olympic track domination. 6 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze, eclipsing our rivals and leaving them in the same state of jealousy, disappointment and bewilderment, realising that millions of dollars, euros and yen have been wasted yet again.

It’s not only the domination of our riders that’s admired, it’s their personalities. From the Maverick Mark Cavendish, the unbelievable calm of Bradley Wiggins to the bubbly charisma of Laura Trott, the whole group are down to earth, respectable individuals. The beauty of the British cyclists is their ability to remain hidden from media gossip and remain largely unknown to the public. Many sports personalities could learn from the prime example set by the cyclists.

Another overlooked fact about our cyclists is that they’re consistent. Our track team continuously perform at high standards, be it world championships, Commonwealth Games or Olympics. Unlike our football teams and up until recently our rugby teams, British cyclists continue to win or be placed highly in competitions. For example, a major achievement for our football teams would be reaching the semi-finals of a major tournament, whilst a disappointment for (let’s say) the GB Women’s Team Pursuit would be not winning a Gold at the world championships or Olympics, or winning without breaking the world record.

Success feeds off success, as England rugby has now found out. After Bradly Wiggins won the 2012 Tour de France on the 22nd July 2012 a new generation of cyclists became inspired. Within three weeks of the start of the 2012 Tour de France the country had become cycling mad. Since 2009, British cycling has inspired 1.7 million people to start riding regularly. I remember tuning in that July to see a British rider wearing the Yellow Jersey, the mark of a leader of the World’s most physically demanding sporting event. Watching Wiggins lead the tour and have Team Sky finish off a perfect three weeks with Mark Cavendish’s fourth Camps-Élysées stage victory was all it took to get me hooked on road riding. Ever since I’ve ridden as much as I can, learning about race tactics, bike anatomy, the best gear and how to better my riding techniques. Cycling, unlike most sports, makes you learn about your equipment, take care of it, tweak it, upgrade it, modify it. It gives you independence, as of course, you can ride before you drive. In many ways your first bike should be treated like your first car.

It is here I think I can close my case. It’s barmy to think that the UK’s most successful sport in the past decade doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves. Producing iconic role models, consistent success, inspiring generations, being easy to take up and of course the fact that we consistently beat our southern hemisphere rivals without the need for an Australian coach. Cycling should be Britain’s National Sport.