Is cycling the new national sport? Let’s look at the evidence.
Does cycling claim to be the fastest growing sport in the UK?
Yes. Wrestling the mantle from High altitude Mountain Goat polo (or some other esoteric danger sport that enjoys making bold claims), cycling does indeed claim to be the fastest growing sport in the UK. However in cycling’s case, not without validity; British cycling’s membership is climbing at a rate of knots, sportives fill up within hours of opening and cyclo-cross races have witnessed bumper fields.
Are there lots of people who are suddenly very well informed about the sport?
Yes. Oh good lord yes. There’s a fair bit of bar room punditry out there. I try to dodge the issue as much as possible because (a) I ride and race more than I sit and follow and ( b) I’ll be horribly exposed when asked if I watched ‘Last night’s ITV4 coverage of the ‘Tour of the Aleutian Islands’, pausing, looking like a rabbit in the headlights, murmuring ‘yes’ in a mouse like voice, only to be laughed and pointed at, before being told that it doesn’t exist.
Of the last 5 BBC Sports personality of the year awards, how many have gone to cyclists?
3. Yes. THREE. To my mind, that’s an amazing public endorsement of the achievements of British cyclists since the 2008 Olympics. Hoy won it in 2008, Cavendish in 2011 and last night Bradley Wiggins was crowned sports personality of the year amongst arguably the toughest ever competition to win it. Any other year and Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray or Ben Ainslie would have sailed off into the sunset (if you excuse the pun), fist clenched tight around a shiny metal gong.
So there you have it. Conclusive proof. Cycling is the new national sport. Doesn’t it make a refreshing change from overpaid, oversexed, overexposed, over-everything’d (except achieving) premiership footballers hogging the limelight?
Footnote: Yes, I know, I know. Don’t tell me – there are more people angling in the UK than cycle racing. But come on, this is a cycling website. Don’t expect entirely bias free assessments (and let’s face it, you can’t ride a fishing rod to work).
Many congratulations to Bradley Wiggins for capping off a fine year.