Team Sky (or Sky Procycling as they were until the start of this season) have undoubtedly changed the way that cycling is perceived in this country. Although they were set up from the start as an internationally rostered team – albeit with a very clear aim of initially achieving success in the Tour de France for a British rider – they were often described as a de facto British national road team. The overlapping managerial & coaching staff from the national track squad adds fuel to this conflation, especially for the legions of new cycling fans that the team’s success has turned onto the sport. It was also inevitable that many of the existing and upcoming British riders would find a home at Sky where the people, program and language were most familiar. But what of those British riders who choose not to ‘Take to the Sky’ with Brailsford and Co? Are they getting a fair share of cycle fan’s support when faced with the media-attention black hole that the Tour-winning team creates wherever it goes?
A seasonal cold is keeping me pretty much off the bike this weekend so here’s another book review for you..
Racing against the clock in any form of time trial is a Race of Truth. How far? How fast? Nothing else matters. Time trialling on the track is an even purer Test. Stripped bare of all the issues of weather, terrain and surface it reduces the contest to just Man and Machine. And there is no greater test of Man and Machine than The Hour – a increasingly mythologised undertaking that pits each new challenger against the greats of the sport who have held the record through the decades. Michael Hutchinson, in his 2007 book (Yellow Jersey Press. £8.99) detailing his own own attempt at the record notes that, in this way, he able to race against Coppi, even from beyond the grave.
Reading Ned Boulting’s book, On The Road Bike – The Search For a Nation’s Cycling Soul, about his exploration of the idiosyncratic world of cycling in Britain is, I would imagine, a bit like joining him for a bike ride. Initially there would be plenty of self-deprecation as he painstakingly points out all his likely shortcomings for the selected route or distance. Then there would be the lightest smattering of name-dropping during the time he proves that he is, in fact, more than capable of said route or distance. There would probably be some debate or confusion about the final destination or purpose of the ride itself before arriving at the end with that warm fuzzy feeling of time well spent in the company of an interesting and articulate friend, who has also shown you a couple of brilliant new lanes hidden away amongst a lot of familiar countryside.