Category: Cycling

Fabian Cancellara (right) and Peter Sagan have made headlines for different reasons following the Tour of Flanders (Image | Getty)

Fabian Cancellara, right, and Peter Sagan have made headlines for different reasons following the Tour of Flanders. (Image | Getty)

Fabian Cancellara won cycling’s one-day Tour of Flanders last weekend. But you’d be forgiven for not having noticed this, as the story wasn’t about Cancellara. In fact, it wasn’t about anything that happened on the cobbled Belgian streets.

As you may have noticed from the picture, Peter Sagan, the Tour’s runner-up, decided to pinch the backside of one of the podium girls (Maja Leye) as Cancellara received his trophy – the fact that the word ‘trophy’ has some ambiguity attached to it in this context speaks volumes.

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Britain’s best keep rolling on

Goldmine: Team GB's dominance in the women's team pursuit was continued in Belarus last week by Dani King, Elinor Barker and Laura Trott (Image | Getty)

Goldmine: Team GB’s dominance in the women’s team pursuit was continued in Belarus last week by Dani King, Elinor Barker and Laura Trott (Image | Getty)

Britain and cycling. People of a certain age will remember that those two words once went together like Britain and sunshine. But ever since Chris Boardman’s gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, there has been a sporting revolution on two wheels in this country.

After the effulgence of London 2012, it wasn’t unreasonable to wonder if we had seen the climax of Britain’s era of dominance. Sir Bradley Wiggins has eschewed the Tour de France this year, Victoria Pendleton has ridden off into the sunset, and Sir Chris Hoy (with all respect) is not long for the cycling world. So is the sheen about to come off this golden era?

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People love stories, particularly tales of greatness, and a major reason as to why the London 2012 Olympic Games held such thrall in Britain was the daily accounts of athletes finding the best of themselves.

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her hepthathlon glory at London 2012. (Image | Evening Standard)

Enn-chanting | Jessica Ennis storms to first place in the 200m, part of her heptathlon triumph at the London 2012 Olympic Games. (Image | Evening Standard)

We had yarns of the woman who grabbed her last chance of glory, Katherine Grainger; the chosen one adored by her public, Jessica Ennis; or the wounded king that ruthlessly crushed those who would usurp him, Usain Bolt. They were the legends of our time, not just athletes.

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Shamed | Lance Armstrong appears at an event for the charity he founded, Livestrong, after stepping down as its chairman. (Image | The Guardian)

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” For Lance Armstrong, his stock has plummeted so far he can never climb back up.

Sacked by Nike, his seven Tour de France titles stripped from him, the American hero will go down in history as one of sport’s biggest ever frauds.

He has taken the rap, quite rightly, for the culture of serial doping and rampant cheating that plagued cycling in the golden years either side of the millennium.

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Why Mark Cavendish must leave Team Sky

Is the Sky really the limit? | Mark Cavendish won his team’s first race of 2012 in Qatar back in February. (Image | Team Sky)

If you have got into cycling recently having been inspired by the Bradley Wiggins boom, then he is naturally going to be your cycling god. For me, however, this title is reserved for one man only. That man is Mark Cavendish.

Back when cycling stoked my interest, the Manx Missile was constantly hitting his targets at then-team HTC-Highroad. With a full lead out train, he would win stages which were not even designed for sprinters.

Individuals such as Lars Bak, Peter Velits and Tony Martin hammered it out for Cavendish on the front, Bernie Eisle drove him up the mountains and Matt Goss and Mark Renshaw took control in the stage’s twilight.

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Once considered an all-American hero, Lance Armstrong’s reputation has been not only savaged, but seemingly abandoned, by his decision not to contest the USADA’s accusations (Image | AP)

He should have gone down as one of the most legendary sportsmen of his generation, fit to stand alongside Zinedine Zidane, Jonah Lomu, Sir Steve Redgrave and Stephen Hendry among the most dominant sportsmen of his era.

Instead, when I talk to my kids about the heroes I grew up watching, Lance Armstrong will be notable only by his absence. He is destined to be an afterthought, an outcast, condemned to stand alongside the likes of Marion Jones and Ben Johnson among the most famous dopers in sporting history.

The titan of cycling has been torn from his saddle. The legend, it appears, is dead.

But for the other side of Lance Armstrong, there was more at stake than his competitive accolades.

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Best of enemies | Anna Meares versus Victoria Pendleton was a highlight of London 2012’s great sporting rivalries. (Image | Daily Mail)

We have witnessed a number of extraordinary accomplishments at the London 2012 Olympic Games. In the lead up to the Games, however, there were few events I wished to see more than the culmination of one of the most enthralling sporting rivalries for a generation: Victoria Pendleton facing Anna Meares.

While Pendleton could claim first blood, after taking gold in the keirin, the focus would rightly be on the women’s sprint, which took place on the final day of action in the Velodrome.

Pendleton’s gold in the keirin was an unexpected success. Meares led going into the final lap, but Pendleton timed her move perfectly, taking the lead and maintaining it as she crossed the finish line.

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