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Arise Sir Chris Hoy, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Dame Victoria Pendleton, Sir David Brailsford, and Dame Rebecca Romero. Your nation salutes you.
There’s nothing like success to make Britain’s mainstream media report on sport. And that’s exactly what cycling success usually gets: nothing.
This time it’s different. Team GB dominated the World Track Championships, winning half of the gold medals. Even the dimmest sports reporter can now see that a golden glow is on the cards for the Beijing Olympics.
Critically, of the ten track events that will be contested in Beijing, Britain won gold in eight of them in Manchester.
‘Queen Victoria’ was on the front page of The Sunday Times yesterday and she’s now the blue-eyed girl of British sport but the whole British team has been lauded over the last few days.
Performance director Dave Brailsford - already a legend to other sports administrators - is being talked of in revered terms by reporters, wondering over his entrepreneurial gifts.
Should cycling win a hatful of golds in the Laoshan velodrome in the summer, it’s not fanciful to imagine that Brailsford, and many of his world-beaters, will be triumphantly honoured by the nation.
Counting chickens before eggs have hatched? Maybe, but never before has Britain had a bunch of athletes so well prepared for an Olympic Games.
Every meal, every gel, every scoop of maltodextrin, every watt of required power, every hour of the next 130 days has been planned out for Team GB’s riders.
No wonder that the British media is an awe of cycling.
And with BBC2’s excellent coverage of the World Championships - Jill Douglas, Hugh Porter and Jamie Staff were superlative - the public is getting a glimpse of what we’ve always known: track cycling is super exciting.
The UCI may have bowdlerised many parts of the sport but track cycling remains the thrilling spectacle it has always been. Riding the boards was invented in the late 19th Century to showcase cycling and it was then a mainstream sport, attended by tens of thousands of spectators.
The Madison event is so called because it was developed at New York’s Madison Square Garden, now a world-class sporting arena but originally built to house a velodrome.
Over the weekend, a number of non-bikie friends who know I’m into cycling have commented on their enjoyment of watching the World Championships on telly. New people are now watching. Britain’s successes have been reported on the main BBC news programmes, attracting viewers to the BBC2 coverage.
My non-cycling friends have all reported being “surprised” at how exciting the cycling was. Yet who wouldn’t be thrilled at watching slow-mo footage of muscular hunks almost bursting out of their skinsuits?
Ditto for the men. Boom-boom.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons the media has taken to Victoria Pendleton? She’s a slip of a thing, yet can power, prettily, around the track to beat women with traditionally trunk-like trackie thighs.
She’s certainly being groomed for stardom. Every other TV cutaway shot seemed to be of Victoria smiling, Victoria clapping, Victoria warming up, Victoria warming down, Victoria with her skinsuit peeled back to reveal a colourful sports bra.
Indeed, just as star footballers often have a second-unit camera following their every move, the BBC seemed to have dedicated a camera to Victoria. Perhaps there was a hope she’d get her kit off live on TV?
Before the World Championships Victoria was getting more media interview requests than the whole of the rest of Team GB put together. Gold medal success for riders other than Victoria evened out this anomaly.
In today’s The Times, Matthew Pinsent - an Olympic gold medal winning former rower - is glowing about cycling:
“Of the 18 events on offer at the Track World Championships, Britain won half. It’s a domination that no cycling nation has achieved before and sends a warning shot to all the others before the Olympics.
“In Olympic circles, people talk of the top four sports (athletics, rowing, sailing and cycling) in revered tones, but if the competition days in the Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing are anything like last week, there should really be only one sport to which the ultimate respect is paid. Never has an Olympic sport burst on to the scene in this country with such a calculated and deserved medal haul.
“…under British Cycling’s instruction, [Rebecca Romero has] become a world champion in her second sport in less than three years.
“Romero was infamous on the rowing team for never smiling or enjoying her training, but hasn’t been able to wipe a broad grin off her face since winning on Thursday. Rowing gave her an ability to train and push herself when she didn’t want to go farther — mainly because she didn’t want to do it. Cycling has taken all that and made her enjoy her sport, and it shows.”