The Tour of Britain has been Live on TV this past week and yesterday there was a magic moment during the Stage to Edinburgh.
You get the odd nutcase in the big Grand Tours of France and Spain who run along side the competitors shouting encouragement they grind up a mountain.
A local lad, Xander Graham, kept pace with the leading group of riders for a fair way along the route by cycling on the pavement. His efforts were rewarded by race rider Pascal Eenkhoorn with a water bottle.
It was a great moment to see.
There have been a few posts on this blog about my bike heroes. Only 6 have been chosen so far:
- Sheldon Brown the bike building oracle was the first on the list of heroes. He was a great inspiration, source of information and point of reference when I did my own build.
- Danny MacAskill has come a long way since he received my second nomination. The things that he can do on a bike still take your breath away.
- The come back kid, Mark Cavendish, has broken records in this year’s Tour de France and has always been a legend in my opinion.
- Mario Cipollini is a blast from the past. Bike Heroes #5 and #6 are more personal additions to the list. These last two inductees have with no links to competitive cycling. Nevertheless the latest bike hero is a true competitor. An olympic champion no less.
Beth Shriever take a bow – you are (BMX) bike hero #7.
Let’s face it. BMX racing is more fun to watch than archery.
BMX racing is more accessible to young people who want to try it out than Equestrian sports.
Despite a funding cut from UkSport and a double leg break in the lead up to the games, Beth Shriever won an Olympic gold in Tokyo after a thrilling final race. Her gold medal represents a better return for team GB than the entire rowing squad can muster.
This girl is a new sensation, yet she humbly points out that it was an achievement just to get to Tokyo in the first place.
Beth has had to self finance her training and travel to events through a crowdfunding website and working as a teaching assistant in a primary school for 2 days a week.
Meanwhile the lottery funding for the Olympic rowing team is £24.6 million
Equestrian team get £12.5 million from UkSport
Even Archery gets £1.1 million to fund the Olympic squad.
From what I can see Beth won her gold medal in spite of and not with the support from UkSport.
There are some other interesting totals in these funding figures
Well now, who would have believed it.
The post race interview says so much. Mark Cavendish is lost for words after his 31st win at the Tour de France.
The legend lives on.
And two days later Tour de France stage win #32 is chalked up. Again the break away is foiled and the sprinters battle out the finish. The man in green wins with apparent ease.
It looks like he is in love with cycling again and his smile says that all is well with the World.
This is a rider who is still winning stages of the World’s greatest 3 week cycle race at the age of 36. This is unprecedented. This simply should not be happening.
The next hurdle to over come is the Alps. Mountain stages just need to be completed within certain time limits, if he gives up or does not get to the finish line his Tour is over. With the help of his team mates he survives.
Back on the flat Cavendish is in his element. Stage 10 is a textbook finish. His team mates work together and go flat out to deliver the man in green almost to the finish line. Cavendish does the rest, making it look so easy. Win #33 is reached – just one away from the all time record.
This is getting tougher – but there is no stopping the Manx Missile. A hot day in the South of France is where he draws level with Eddy Merckx.
Heroes are people who inspire and make your jaw drop.
Mark Cavendish does that. He continues to win stages of major races the hard way (see the report below)
One can only admire his grit and determination to get to that finish line first. He still has time to raise his hand to show how many stage wins he has chalked up on this race so far.
What with the fantastic results that the British Olympic track cyclists achieved and Bradley Wiggins winning le Tour along with further Gold in the Olympic time trial, Mark Cavendish has faded away from the public gaze of late. To me he is still a “Bike Hero” nevertheless.
The stage win in the video came after huge effort from his team to drag him to a point where he could strike. This final sprint of his is truly heroic. Notice the guys at the front that Cavendish catches with about 50 metres to go just watch him go past, as they know that they have no answers to his raw pace.
The commentators clearly enjoyed watching the race reach its climax – “…and here comes the Missile!” shouts Phil Liggett.
The video might need watching a second time when one can focus on where Cavendish comes from.
Some ‘Random’ with Parkinson’s
The way people react to you having Parkinson’s is different, but it helps if people just show a bit of empathy not sympathy. That goes a long way to making the sufferer calmer and happier. This is good as stress and confrontation can set a person with PD into a state with full blown symptoms.
People with Parkinson’s try and hide the symptoms that they have and the drugs they take help mask the things that go wrong with their bodies. Rarely will a PD sufferer say anything about their problems – except to those that they love and trust.
Big tip though if a PD sufferer asks for help, then they probably are in need. This almost stubborn denial of these problems that PD causes means that sufferers try and prove they can cope. This puts tremendous pressure on the nearest and dearest at times. They must cope too, as well as care.
So I give you Bike hero #5
The random bloke has to cope with the ‘freezing’ that I am so used to that it has become part of my life – I hope that he is un-medicated, otherwise he is in a bad way. My hat goes off to him for allowing people to film him in that state.
However the person that I say is the true hero is the woman looking on in the background. I assume it is his wife – the person who cares and has to deal with so much pain herself. Not many people out there are able to give that much of their heart and soul to someone else.
This lad was best described as a “Dandy” – one of his many nicknames was The Lion King, which helped paint the picture of this very self confident athlete with his mane of curly hair and wrap around shades. He oozed sauve style, posessed a real sense of arrogance and was a natural team leader.
Cipollini was a sprinter, a man who loved to be greeted by his adoring fans on the winner’s podium at the end of the race whilst looking like he had not even been down the paper shop and back on his bike. He was that good that he would turn up at the Tour de France win a few flat stages in the first week or so, and then give up and abandon the race when things got serious in the mountain stages. He would jump off his bike at the first sight of the Pyrenees or Alps and be down on the beach in Rimini quicker than you could say “lazy, arrogant, spineless superstar”
All in all he was a great athlete and a bit of a bully if truth be told. Still he made the Italian cycling fans proud in 2002 in a brutal finish to the World Championships…….
is my bike hero #3.
I have never seen anything like the way in which he finished up the Champs Elysees to win the final stage of the Tour de France in 2010.
I was lucky enough to be in France when I saw this finish on TF1, the French equivalent of BBC1.
Now back in his homeland you could only see this amazing finish to the world’s biggest bike race if you had satellite television. In France he would be treated like a God, a true hero, as cycling is in the French psyche and is part of the national culture. Whereas he could walk into any public place in the UK and be pretty sure that nobody would recognise him. Even if he wore a t-shirt printed with the phrase “I am Mark Cavendish” he is hardly going to get mobbed.
In cycling terms this man is a one off, so much so that he dictates the way the event organisers plan the route and finishes of stages in the Tour de France. The Tour de France is the World’s greatest cycling competition has been forced to consider how to set out the course that the race takes, as if the race stage is a flat one with a straight finish, there is only going to be one winner.
You only have to watch the final 200m of this race and you can see that this man is head and shoulders above his peers, who themselves are at the pinnacle of their sport.