…the icing and the hundred and thousands.
The toppings on the cake of British road cycling have just been piling up this year, with Bradley Wiggins adding the Olympic time trial gold yesterday.
Starting from when Wiggins broke his collar bone in last years Tour de France there’s been Mark Cavendish’s numerous stage wins, including his hat trick on the Champs-Elysees, giving him the green jersey. Then Wiggins and Chris Froome were on the podium for the Vuelta a España – Froome second, Wiggins third – then Cavendish was lead to the World road race title – Wiggins coming second in the World time trial, in 2011.
In 2012 then Wiggins reels off the Paris–Nice, Tour de Romandie and Critérium du Dauphiné then wins the Tour De France with Froome second during which British riders won 7 out of the 21 stages including Cav’s fourth straight on the Champs.
And now Wiggins has topped that by becoming Olympic time trial gold medallist with Chris Froome picking up bronze on the streets around Hampton Court. Or
that castle as it was described in another classic Wiggins’ interview.
It’s unprecedented for British cycling but also what Wiggins has achieved this year alone in unprecedented for all cycling. As I’ve posted before no cyclist before had won the trio of stage races before in one season, so none have done that and then done the Tour. But only one previous winner of the Tour has won Olympic gold on the road, Miguel Indurain, and he didn’t do it in the same year.
Was it a one horse race? Well pretty much. from very, very early on it was obvious that the medals were, barring accidents or external influences – such as the sad case of Luis León Sánchez whose chain snapped before he’d even crossed the start line and he suffered another set back later on, eventually being passed by a couple of riders that started behind him.
It was Bradley, Froome and the German Tony Martins who had really beaten Wiggins in last year’s World Championship by a minute and a half. But Bradley hasn’t been beaten on a proper long time trial this year, finished second in a couple of shorter ones, but none when he can pace himself like this slowly building up from being 5 seconds behind Martins at the first time split to being 42 seconds when it counted.
There wasn’t the punch in the air as with the final time trial of the Tour when Wiggins knew it was won, he seemed not to know what the situation was with the only man left on the circuit who could possibly take the gold away from him. But Fabian Cancellara was struggling and Wiggins time had already passed with the Swiss some distance away from the finish, which he crossed over 2 minutes down. The crash in the road race, in which he badly injured his a bruised elbow, hip, pelvis and shoulder, clearly having an effect as he looked seriously pained when being treated later. Again it shows what cyclist put themselves through, though in poor condition he was determined to defend his Olympic title.
The finish line pretty much summed up Wiggins performance as with Cancellara, Martin was breathing heavy and taking on fluids while Wiggins barely looked troubled. Fresh as a daisy as he searched out his family and then took a sort of lap of honour in front of the great crowds the road racing has attracted.
He even looked cool on those stupid Beckham style thrones that the leaders had to sit on. Thankfully Lesley Garrett wasn’t there to spoil the end of proceedings.
Taking his medal tally up to 7 with his fourth gold, most by any Brit. Shoo-in for the Sports Personality of the year and inspiration for Chris Hoy (if he needed any) to surpass that in the velodrome over the next few days.