Monday, 23 July 2012

Bradley Wiggins - What will the winning impact be

Bradley Wiggins and Team Sky may still be celebrating his ground breaking victory in the Tour de France but once this and the Olympic victories that are to come are over what will be the impact of this historic year for Britain.

We need to put into context what Wiggo has achieved.  The Tour is the single biggest annual sporting event in the world.  Only the football World cup and the Olympics beat it for spectator numbers and they take place every 4 years.  A British cyclist has never won; in fact a British cyclist has never been on the podium!  What is even more important is that we had 2 Brits in the winner’s enclosure and all done drug free.  The only drugs Team Sky seems to be on are enthusiasm, grit and the Brailsford effect.

This victory has been coming for some time but no-one in this country had believed it would happen.  We have had over the years many track cycling successes but never the sustained success we have had since the National Lottery and then Sky put their money behind the sport.  Add the money to the intensity, the planning and the sheer brilliance of Brailsford and his coaching team and you have the formidable cycling outfits you see today.  Not only in the professional sporting arena but on the track as well.  You look forward to the next 3 weeks at the Olympics and you cannot see a single cycling event that we don't have a chance of medalling in.  From Cav and Wiggo on the road to Kenny, Pendleton & Hoy (the list is too long to name them all) on the track. 

The impact of the success will be far reaching and we need to take advantage while the excitement is where it is.  Last year it was reported that cycling number grew by 7%. With success like this there is no reason why it will not grow by double figures. I myself only took the sport up 2 years ago and since then have seen the number commuting to work explode.

As a country we need to embrace the sport.  Football for years has hogged the limelight and why? Cycling offers so much more.  It provides discipline through the required training, it improves fitness and lifestyle, provides and intense spirit of competition and achievement.  Not only this and as the Tour in 2012 has proven it is a spectacle full of intrigue, passion and skill.  The fact ITV showed the last 2 days on ITV shows the desire for it to be on TV.  Sponsorship and advertisers want to be a part of cycling.  If Team sky have done anything this year they have proven that drugs are not a pre-requisite for success and maybe now other teams will follow and start to clean up professional cycling.

At this point I believe it is only right and proper to praise the Sponsors, Sky.  Without whom none of this success would be possible.  Yes the British track team receive huge funding and quite rightly from UK sport and thus the National lottery.  Sky however has backed not only the track team but also the professional road team.  Whilst they are not the most heavily funded team on the tour, from recent reports this would be the BMC team and Cadel Evans et al, they are now the most feared. Sky have allowed David Brailsford almost free reign on the spending and what Brailsford has done best is to assemble not only a brilliant riding outfit but also the best back up team in the sport.  "MARGINAL GAINS" is Brailsford's buzz phrase.  By taking small steps in every area give big gains overall. They are the only team to have individual coaches for every rider; they have technical advisors not only from their bike supplier but from experts such as Chris Boardman who in the 90's took cycling to a new level with his bike design innovations (as well as his world record breaking skills).

There are few rare occasions in a generation when your fellow countrymen achieve something spectacular.  The Football world cup in 1966, the Rugby world cup in 2003 and now Bradley Wiggins Tour de France.  It is that big and mainly because this was not one man's victory, it is team victory and a cultural changing success.  Cycling can only get bigger off the back of this, My 7 year son will not be the only youngster who is buzzing off the back of it and who cannot wait for the "Manx Missile" and "Wiggo" to win again.  He has already asked for a road bike for Christmas in exchange for his mountain bike and who am I to get in the way.

This is defiantly no isolated victory for team Sky and British cycling.  Next stop Olympic gold’s, followed by Spain and then who knows where.  If you don't already commute to work by bike, get out there and start.  If you already ride but don't compete then get out there and have a go.  The number of Sportiv's available has doubled in 5 years; the number of "friendly" riding events has increased with many national cycling events taking place.  To start look at the Sky rides, these are by no means the only ones.  If you have really caught the buzz why not pop down to your local track.

Well done Wiggins and Co, the Country solutes you.

1 comment:

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