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Why Britain's cyclists were the real team of 2011

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Matt Slater | 15:54 UK time, Friday, 6 January 2012

In these straitened times it is vital that we make the most of what we have. It is also important that we take time, amid all this austerity, to enjoy the good bits properly and applaud those who have cheered us up.

So I am going to cast my mind back to the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year show one more time and highlight a team performance that has received almost no mainstream recognition but should be up there with English football's 1966, rugby union's 2003 or the British Olympic team's 2008.

Don't get me wrong, SPOTY's team of the year, the England men's cricket team, were superb in 2011 - top of the rankings, a fine summer and a thumping Ashes win Down Under - but they were not my team of the year for the simple reason that another side "played" better.

Their champagne moment came when Mark Cavendish crossed the line to win Britain's first men's road race world title for 46 years. To him go the jersey, fame and new contract, but the glory is shared.

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Cavendish conquered Copenhagen but says he would not have done it without "not just the best performance by a British team at a World Championships but the best performance by any team at a World Championships in history".

To explain why British cycling's biggest star believes this you need to understand a few things about this apparently individual sport.

First, six hours is a long time on a bike but it is an eternity if you have nobody to hide behind.

Cycling behind somebody is about 20% easier than riding at the front. There, you punch a hole through the air for everybody else to slip through.

Thoroughbreds like Cavendish are kept fresh for the final gallop and spared hole-punching duties.

Second, if you need a bottle of water, don't worry. Your buddy will drop back to the team car (there's that word 'team' again) to get it and then pedal back to the pack to save you the effort.

Puncture a tyre, don't fret, a couple of pals will wait for you to get a new wheel and then pace you back to the bunch. Break your bike? Don't panic. One of those guys will give you theirs.

Third, let's just say you are renowned for having the best finish in the business. Let's just say you are practically unbeatable if the entire field arrives at the end of a long day and the final mile is flat.

Let's just say you are Cavendish and you have only one plan: make sure the race ends with a bunch sprint.

As plans go, it is a good 'un. The 26-year-old has won 20 stages of the Tour de France in four years, among other big wins, and is on course to beat the great Eddy Merckx's all-time tally of 34 Tour stages.

But this plan is hardly a secret. In fact, there would have been nobody in the 210-strong field in Copenhagen who did not know it and about 200 of those riders would have been doing everything in their power to foil it.

Their counter-plan would have been to break away, get a gap and hold on in a cartoon-like chase, where the only question is what comes first, the finish line or the rest of the race.

But that did not happen in the Danish capital for the simple reason that Cavendish's team-mates would not let it.

OK, one or two riders enjoyed a lap out in front but they did not last long, such was the fearsome pace set by the British riders, who formed an express train at the front of the pack and said "escape that".

Steve Cummings, Jeremy Hunt, Chris Froome and David Millar all put in stellar shifts early on, with Millar acting as captain, seeing everything, reacting, plotting.

And then, when the race was at its most frantic, Bradley Wiggins, who a few days earlier had won a silver medal in the time trial, took control with a lap at the front that won him nothing but the respect of every cyclist watching and Cavendish's eternal gratitude.

It was cycling's equivalent of flanker Richard Hill's unseen heroics at the 2003 Rugby World Cup or Nobby Stiles's marking job on Eusebio in the 1966 semi-final against Portugal.

But all of Cavendish's team-mates, none of whose names appear in the records beside his, were riding for a common cause: keep the race together for 259km and then get out of the way.

That brings me to the final point that has to be made about the team. What happened that bright September day was the culmination of a three-year plan to assemble the best line-up ever fielded by Britain in the championships' 84-year history.

As soon as Copenhagen was chosen to stage the race, British Cycling's bosses knew their once-in-a-generation sprinter had a chance provided he had support.

An emerging cycling nation, Britain had previously struggled at the Worlds against the traditional powers and their full-strength teams. The top eight countries get nine riders, the weakest just one.

A year before, any hope Cavendish had of victory in Melbourne disappeared the moment it was confirmed he would have only two lieutenants.

Throughout 2011, every British pro scrapped for every possible qualification point. The result was Cavendish plus seven.

"It wasn't just the guys who were there," said the landslide winner of SPOTY's individual award.

"It was all the British riders who worked hard to secure the eight spots, picking up points in every little race, working to get enough spots to do what we wanted to do: control the race for 260km."

The funny thing is that all that work, all that planning, almost came apart in the last minute of the race. But truly great team performances nearly always contain a spark of individual genius.

So, carefully protected for 99% of the race, Britain's first Tour de France points winner found himself alone, boxed in against a kerb and trailing his quickest rivals.

"I actually hit my wheels on the kerb, bam!" he recalled. "I went to go again and hit the kerb again. I just thought that after what the guys had done for me I either win, or have the biggest crash of my career trying."

Hemmed in on the right just as the road narrowed and every country's sprint champion was surging forward, Cavendish stayed calm.

He knew the wind was coming from the back right and space would appear on his side of the road.

But whose wheel should he follow? In a moment of pure instinct, Cavendish left his last two team-mates, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas, let Australian rider Matt Goss through and immediately latched on to his slipstream.

"I knew Goss was the fastest man out there, so even though I had my team-mates I wanted to be on his wheel," he recalled.

"I got boxed in but I knew a gap would open and I didn't hesitate when it did. Goss did and that's why I got the jump on him."

That it was what world champions are made of and this world champion was made in Britain, to a British plan, with British components.

With apologies to Andrew Strauss and co (and perhaps Formula 1's Red Bull too), the British men's road race team had a 1966 kind of year - and we haven't had many of those.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Hear hear! Couldn't agree more about the cycling (and cricket) team. It's refreshing to have a bunch of truly elite professional sportsmen acting like professionals (and sportsmen). I just hope that the Rugby team can rediscover that kind of spirit (the football lot are long since lost).

  • Comment number 2.

    Good article Matt and I totally agree with you. The public do not understand what is involved in cycling and teamwork. If they did the British cycling team would have won it with a landslide victory.
    I have been watching all sports for forty years now and I think that was the best performance I have ever seen from a British team.
    Lets hope that cycling will continue to grow in this country and people will start to realise what a truly epic sport it is.

  • Comment number 3.

    always the BBC give the team award to mainstream sports

  • Comment number 4.

    @3 man utd were up for team of the year aswell, lets just be fortunate they didnt get it, as both the cricketers (and cyclists) were both better teams last year.

    Of the nominations the right "team" won the award. Although i agree with matt, cycling is seen as an individual sport (Cavandish winning main prize) but it is a team sport and should have been recognised as such, would have been a close run thing between them and the cricketers.

  • Comment number 5.

    without the "team" Cavendish would not have become world champion. they did the most increadablie turn. all forfitting any hopes - pinning it on cav to win - all professional cycylists - of different trade teams -

  • Comment number 6.

    Wholly agree with the sentiment, but a couple of points about the article:

    1. The whole piece is about the road racing world championships but the picture is of the British track cycling squad?

    2. I think you're a little generous to say the Cavendish 'leaving' Stannard and Thomas was a "moment of pure instinct". Coming into the last mile or so, these two were trying to lead Cav back towards the head of the field when an Australian(?) rider split them up, deliberately or otherwise. See comments of Thomas after the race when he said they thought they'd blown it and Cavendish who made quite clear it wasn't part of the plan.

    Otherwise, well done and it was great to see Cavendish getting the recognition his achievements over the past few years fully deserve.

    In a moment of pure instinct, Cavendish left his last two team-mates, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas

  • Comment number 7.

    Spot on Matt! at least Cav does all he can in interviews to ensure the Team gets the credit they deserve.

    On a wider note if the SPOTY returned to a sports review of the year format, a more informed picture would be presented to the public regarding all sports. Chris Froome, Wiggo and all the others that represented Britain so superbly last year would have got the recognition they deserved.

  • Comment number 8.

    How come the BBC never, or very very very rarely ever mentions the near total domination of UK cyclists in downhill mountainbiking? A sport where total integration with the bike and ultimate handling skills are paramount and not the assistance of team mates to help you win. Danny Hart demolished the world's best last year in Champery, Switzerland on a course regarded as the best DH track in the world. Anything here about it? Or the fact that Steve Peat has the most podiums ever on DH World Cup. Or the fact that the Athertons - Gee (mens DH), Rachel (womens DH) and Dan (mens 4X) all won their respective World Championships a couple of years back on the same day.

  • Comment number 9.

    Slightly exaggerated I feel. The simple fact is that Cavendish is the fastest finisher and most teams would be able to take a race on a flat course to a sprint. Italy did exactly the same thing for Cipollini to win the World's one year but it can only be done on the rare occasion of the course being flat.

    The comment from Denzel about football and rugby : in Rugby Union there are basically only 5 teams who can win a World Cup and England can never beat New Zealand anyway. You can't compare that to football where there are lots of strong teams and even more decent teams who can do what Uruguay did last time.

    In my opinion there should be much more merit given to people or teams that do well in truly international sports like athletics, cycling and tennis.

  • Comment number 10.

    agree it was a great year for the cyclists but not many teams destroy australia in their bk yard and then whitewash the num 1 ranked team in the world in a winner takes all test series, england cricket by far num 1, the cyclists were a respectable 2nd

  • Comment number 11.

    I would just say that 2003, 2005,2008, 2011 might be considered as great if not greater than 1966 in sporting terms

  • Comment number 12.

    It's a shame cycling isn't main stream enough for the BBC to show a full story about how british cycling has taken off over the last few years. it might help to raise the profiles of wiggins and thomas to the masses.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'd stick with Andrew Strauss's Cricket team, who were clearly the best in the world (a long way superior to Australia). Analysis will show Australia's cycling team (the Cyclones) had a better year than Britains. Tour de France Maillot jaune (Cadell Evans), Milan-San Remo One Day Classic (Matt Goss), World Track Championships (Mens Team Pursuit, Womens Team Pursuit, Mens Individual Pursuit (Bobridge), Mens Keiren (Perkins), Mens Omnium (Freiburg), Mens Maddison (Meyer & Howard), Womens Sprint & Keiren (Anna Meares) record 8-2-2) as well as Mark Renshaw being Cavandishs principle lead out rider in the Tour de France. Britain's record @ the Worlds was 2-4-3. Australia's had Green Jersey winners before in recent times (McEwan (multiple) and Cooke) and recent World road champions (Evans and Rogers (multiple)), but when you win the Maillot jaune you will have reason to be excited. Will never be Cavandish (and don't get to excited about beating Merckx's record yet), but there is no doubt that Wiggins (if he can stay on his bike) has every chance in the next 3-4 years with the right support. If The Ashes wre applied to cycling, ther is no doubt Australia would be holding them. And we will get The Ashes back in cricket next year, so bask in your glory now, it will only be fleeting.

  • Comment number 14.

    Funny you mention Cipo in 2002, aviola09 (#9). Cav mentioned that himself, he's a bit of a cycling history buff. The thing you are forgetting is that Italy had a 12-man team that day & there were other big teams trying to bring it to a sprint. They all cooperated to reel in a break that included a young David Millar.

    We're desperately trying to add the Cav interview as embedded AV but we're having technical probs. Blame the bad weather.

  • Comment number 15.

    Initially I thought Cav joining Sky would be a bad thing as I thought Wiggins wouldn't pull this weight in the train just to protect his chances in the hills, but as he showed in the road race (two days after his 2nd in the time trial) he is willing to put the effort in for the team. The only worries I have now for the TOF is Renishaw, now that is has moved to another team and disbanding of HTC. I've not done any recent research on him but I assume he will be the main sprinter for the team he has joined (who is that by the way?). Cav has said before that Renishaw is quicker than him so it would be interesting how he fairs against him, but knowing Cav as with all his other rivals, he will beat him .-)

    Knowing Cav, as in previous races, he will prob be cheeky and still use Renishaw as his leadout man just to say "you may be the top guy in another team but you will always be my leadout lol)

  • Comment number 16.

    Nice one Matt.

    As a massive cycling fan (and weekend warrior) I was very disappointed that Wiggins and Froome didn't get a mention on SPOTY. World time-trial silver and podium spots on Vuelta surely at least worthy of mention. The super-human effort involved and the 50000km of yearly training eclipses most professional sportspersons training hand down.

    Wiggo for 2012 Tour de rance and SPOTY next year (although there might be something going on in London that could deflect support!)

  • Comment number 17.

    To mpjacko, Renshaw is riding for Rabobank this year, would liked to have seen him in Team Greenedge though. And he may be faster than Cavandish, but I'm not sure he has the tactical acumen yet, or 'the cloak of invisability' if you like.

  • Comment number 18.

    Good article and a well deserved win for Mark Cavendish, impossible without the incredible support from Wiggins, Thomas et al.

    I also agree that it was a shame that Danny Hart's legendary performance to win the world championship for downhill mountain biking in Champery this year didn't get at least a mention in the montage of "other british world champions" on SPOTY. Search for the video - a more inspiring piece of mountain bike handling you will struggle to find.

  • Comment number 19.

    @15. Renshaw is at Rabobank. He will be quick, but being a lead-out man is very different to being a sprinter at the sharp end. I wouldn't put it past him to win a stage at the Tour, but Renshaw isn't even the big danger. That would be a young German by the name of Marcel Kittel, whose 15 victories last year (including one GT sprint win at the Vuelta) is the highest amount by a Neo-Pro in history, and the power output this guy has is practically insane. He has beaten every other "big-name" sprinter, but has never come up against Cavendish in a sprint. Should be explosive.

    @13 - You can't combine track and road team's into one, their totally different disiplines. Take the road side, as we are looking at here, an you have a Green Jersey and World Championship vs Yellow and Milan san Remo. On paper, the Australian "team" results are better.


    Goss infiltrated a break of 11 (i think) riders on the Poggio, and befitted from the fact that neither Gilbert or Cancellara were on top top form, and that was a trade team race, so in this Aspect, an individual result. The same applies for Cadel tour victory, there were no other Aussie on his team, so it's hard to say that's a victory for the "Australian cycling team", when their both trade team with no other Aussies involved, versus a 260km show of dominance. Never in the history of the WC has something like that been seen as far as i know, and its unlikely to happen again.

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting that some people are saying the BBC would never give the SPOTY team award to cyclists. So the GB olympic cycling team that won the award in 2008 must be from Outer Mongolia or somewhere else. Also Cavendish is the 2nd cyclist in four years to win the overall award. Yes, track and road cycling are different types of cycling. But then so track and road running.

    Considering GB sport has had major successes in other sports such as swimming, triathlon, athletics, Cricket, women's rugby, rowing, sailing etc. Some of which get less attention than Cycling. The competition to win the small amount of awards available to win is tough. Cycling has done very well. But other GB sports are doing incredible well with little recognition too. Each of those sports can argue their sport is just as tough and deserve more recognition than it gets at present.

  • Comment number 21.

    The trouble is that the British team were only competing for one race during the whole season (which of course makes the performance even more impressive) in what is a trade-team sport, but nonetheless it was a hugely impressive performance which I never thought they would be capable of.

    For this success to come 10 months prior to the London Olympics really couldn't be better timing. With this the first event in the games (though apparently not necessarily the first medal on offer), this is a great chance for road cycling to gain yet more fans in the UK. I hope and expect it will be an exciting aggressive race, and for this reason I think it will be extremely hard for Cav to win. Having only 4 teammates is a massive difference to 8 and will make the race so much more chaotic, in theory.

    But it is extraordinary how far British cycling has come over the last few years. When I first discovered road cycling in 2007, we had decent time triallers in Millar and Wiggins and a young rising star called Mark Cavendish, but now, 5 years later, we have so much more to get excited about. To be watching two British riders last September, for example, flying up the mountains to reach the podium in the Vuelta a Espana - on freeview TV - was quite something.

    I won't get my hopes up too much, but hopefully we get more balanced coverage of road cycling on the BBC - the fact there was no Tour of Flanders article or anything about Gilbert's incredible Ardennes Triple (or any of his other non-Tour success for that matter) was highly disappointing.

    @19 - Indeed, Kittel certainly looks almost certain to be Cav's biggest rival yet. It could grow into one of the great sporting rivalries of cycling the way Kittel is going, only there are riders like Appollonio and Viviani who look likely to get in on the act too. Exciting times. Bring on the new season.

  • Comment number 22.

    ...and I know Appollonio is at Sky with Cav, but I can see that situation changing within a few years.

  • Comment number 23.

    @19- I take your point about an 'Australian Cycling Team' regarding Evans and Goss, but the point of the article is the best British Team of the year, and I think it would be difficult to argue the performance of the British squad @ the WC on one one day (I know training goes on all year) would outrate the outstanding performance of Englands cricket team over many performances home and away over the entire year. The WC was 'one swallow', the cricket team a whole flock, good luck to them. And look for Jack Bobridge (Track World Champion along with most of the outstanding Brits) to translate track form to potential to both stage and major Tour victories in the next 5-10 years.
    @8- I agree Mountain Bike success is underated, it is worth noting that Cadell Evans was a World Champion @ this discipline along time before he took to the road, so keep an eye on Danny Hart & Steve Peat, because these blokes have outstanding bikemanship.
    Both Track cycling and Mountainbike are apart of a spectrum that should be acknowledged as being intracately intwined with with Road Cycling, and not be seperated, as nobody starts off with light weight highly geared sensitive road bikes.
    I look forward to GBvAus @ the London Olympics and with a bit of luck (& there always is this element) it maybe Goss (Renshaw lead out, not sure course suits Evans)-Cavandish this time around, as I'm not sure Kittel will have the neccesary team support.

  • Comment number 24.

    Nice article, Matt. I have to agree that the English Cricket team deserve the accolade. After 25 years of hurt, England conquered the almost impossible of beating Australia in their own backyard (how long they can hold on to the ashes who knows) but it's worthy to say England are on the highest perch for a reason.

    Britain have had mixed results in the cycling, some individual efforts have been outstanding for GB but Australia have really dominated the headlines in cycling this year, as a team and individually - will GB ever see a Tour de France title? Unsure. I don't think I need to list all the accolades, but the Cycling World Championships, Commonwealth Games were undoubtedly ruled by the Australians. The fact the GB team has an Australian coaching them also outlines where the pinnacle of the sport lies.

    Interesting article.

  • Comment number 25.

    Great blog, matt. Never truly appreciated what a team effort cycling really is until the world championships. Personally, I'd still give the nod to the cricket team, but our cyclists should have at least been nominated!

  • Comment number 26.

    Excellent blog Matt. I'm a cycling fan, but do not claim any in depth knowledge about road racing - I watched this race without completely understanding the tactics involved, it's nice to have them explained so expertly - I only wish I had known all this as I was watching it, as I would have enjoyed it all the more. Cav is always the first to point out that most if not all of his victories are due to his having a great team around him - he strikes me as a great guy, humble but not falsely modest.

  • Comment number 27.

    @Odarroch Once you get inside the sport and start to understand what goes on in the Peloton you'll be totally hooked. I've always described it as a constantly evolving Chess Match played out over 4 to 5 hours at average speeds of about 25 to 30mph. It's fascinating to watch a race or stage develop over several hours and the British Team did one of the most impressive rides I've ever seen.

    Cav knew that if he didn't deliver after all the hard work of his team mates he'd have never forgiven himself and the result is there for everyone to see. I was on my feet screaming at the TV for the last 5km of the race and leapt around like a looney as Cav crossed the line. It was my highlight of the sporting year and with Team Sky looking like one of the strongest Trade Teams this year it's shaping up to be another hugely successful year for British Cycling.

    P.S. Sorry BBC but the best commentary of Cavs win was done by David Harmon over at Eurosport, the emotion in his voice when Cav gets through says everything about what that win meant to British Cycling.

  • Comment number 28.

    Very interesting and knowledgeable stuff. Only one thing - am I not correct in thinking that the 1966 football and 2003 rugby teams represented England rather than Britain? The achievements are quite rightly held in high esteem in England, but have less significance to the other countries within the UK and NI.
    Could you find a more appropriate British comparison, Matt?

  • Comment number 29.

    The only reason the BBC are mentioning cycling is because of the recent success of British riders men and women from track and now road. In the Robert Millar Sean Yates Malcolm Elliot era it was hardly mentioned at all.
    Cycling is one if not, the hardest sports in the pro ranks, its prominence in the UK behind cricket is understandable but in my opinion it far outranks cricket in every aspect of what a great sport is.
    Along with the monotony that is F1 where technology decides more than the driver its an easy sport to cover unlike road cycling where the terrain differs from race to race and the type of riders likely to win.

    Looking forward to another great year of cycle sport with the Olympics being an addition. Cavendish deserves his success as he is a phenomenal sprinter.

  • Comment number 30.

    The fact that the sport is not mainstream is part of the reason why it CAN'T be considered alongside English football's 1966, rugby union's 2003 or the British Olympic team's 2008 performances. The main negative aspect of significant public interest is also one of the factors that defines a great team, the ability to work under pressure. Understandably the posters on this blog are cycling enthusiasts and fair play to you all, but the majority of the country is not and the BBC is geared towards public interest, hence the road racing team was ignored for team of the year. Regardless of the achievement, this is fair because noone really watched it, on the BBC or elsewhere. If the UK tiddlywinks team won for the 5th year in a row, trouncing all opposition in their wake, noone woud consider them on a par with Bobby Moore, Jonny Wilkinson et al. Why? because all sporting achievement is considered relative to the public interest generated. This is also why, Killerbarbiesv10, downhill mountainbiking is rarely mentioned regardless of their dominance. Noone cares.

  • Comment number 31.

    Accurate and insightful article Matt. Glad to see that there is at least one BBC sports journalist who can recognise true sporting achievement when they see it. Every single one of those guys knew what they had to do and delivered on the day. They rode out of their skins and real cycling fans know that although Cav has the honour of wearing the rainbow stripes, in reality this was a world championship for the GB team. And don't forget the fact that the wider GB team also finished on top of the medal table that week - that's right FIRST place! Ahead of Australia, Germany, Italy and the rest!

  • Comment number 32.

    If the World Championship Road Race was awarded to a team, then Slater would have a point; but it isn't so he doesn't.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well @danny height, it seems we've got you Aussies rattled somewhat! Fair dues to Cadel Evans at the TdF and the Aussie track team at last year's Worlds - both immense performances. But you may have to watch in awe this year as Brits win the Tdf yellow and green jerseys, Olympic RR and top team on the track. Particularly looking forward to the Team has to be Aus v GB final! I do agree, though, that the England cricket team deserved the team award at SPOTY - what a year they had!

  • Comment number 34.

    @30 "noone really watched it" - which is why Cavendish received 170,000 votes in SPOTY and 4 times more than the 2nd placed sportsman. Makes sense.

  • Comment number 35.

  • Comment number 36.

    Lagetcher, you beat me to it! The fact thar Cav got the individual award should tell jonny something about who watches cycling.

  • Comment number 37.

    It was a superb race, I think this was the race Cav called one of the greatest tea, cycling performance's ever. The guys just gave everything as well as sacrificing every personal chance.

    @8 It seems your don't appreciate that this is a team sport. You mention handling skills: try controlling a bike, at that speed, in a 50 strong pelaton. Another reason for needing the assistance of team mate (that word again) is that these guys are cycling for 240k. Its a team sport.

    @30 You are just ignorant. Its funny that one of the achievements you mention, 2008 olympic team, medal tally benefited significantly from the sport you are slagging- albeit on the track. Achievement is no measured in popularity but success. This is an incredible success. Just look at the SPOTY results from this year. You have embarrassed yourself with a comment like that.

  • Comment number 38.

    Still some way to go to catch up on our neighbours across the water...Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche... it will be a long time before this part of the world produces their like again.

  • Comment number 39.

    I really appreciated your blog Matt. I am a weekend warrior and MAMiL (middle aged man in lycra) and thoroughly enjoy cycling with my fellow cyclistas. We average 60 miles every Sunday in the lumpy Scottish Borders and we usually have a headwind blowing through the Teviotdale on our depart, but fully appreciate the push home. Cavendish is phenomenal talent and we should cherish his and his teammates efforts. He is always the first to praise his team as every cyclist knows the guy up top is punching a hole in the air to make life so much easier for his team, and Cav has the balls and speed to finish. I can't wait for this years cycling to start both for the professionals and us MAMils.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am going to say with almost 100% certainty that GB will not win both the yellow and green jersey at the next Tour de France. Green Jersey is more than a shoe-in if Cavendish maintains his electric form. His team is brilliant and there isn't many other teams that can challenge.
    As for the yellow, if Cadel can't get a double then I'd put it to one of the Schleck brothers, most likely Andy. GB have a great opportunity on the track at this Olympics to show themselves true but out-placing Australia will be some feat, especially in the women's trials.

  • Comment number 41.

    @38 I mentioned these sports as a direct quote from the article, and cycling played a part in the greater success of the Olympic team granted. Popularity is very relevant to sporting achievement regardless of success (see tiddlywinks analogy). Finally you'd consider it an embarassing and ignorant comment, being a cycling fan yourself, and on balance I'd probably agree with you on the ignorance point, but I would consider it representative of the wider sporting majority who also went, 'Who the #+*# is Mark Cavendish??' a couple of months ago.

  • Comment number 42.

    'always the BBC give the team award to mainstream sports'

    Yes. Popular sports. The ones with the most people watching and following it.
    As with the womens sports, cycling isn't the most viewed sport out there.

  • Comment number 43.

    I think there's a transition happening. I love cricket but can't watch it until the highlights on C4 and who wants to watch cricket on highlights?
    Cycling I can watch live. Brilliant! Some posts above about who watch it - well I can see the cycling audience growing as its so accessible.

    I loved England thumping Oz and then India for no 1 team but I mainly read about it. I also think the standard of cricket worldwide is falling as the best athletes pursue more lucrative sports.

    Cycling is at least as hard as cricket to get into as a viewer. I've been watching it for 5 years and even 2 years ago I was the numpty wondering why, if Cav was so good, could he not win yellow not green. The team aspect of cycling needs more airtime and the blog brilliantly describes it - well done. As for the summer, ToF and Olympics for me - I'll watch/read cricket when I've had my fill of my now favorite sports.

    But I don't want to come across too down on cricket - they've done brilliantly and I think a lot of sports could learn a great deal from their approach and professionalism.

  • Comment number 44.

    @41 - good to see we have a tiddlywinks expert on board. Anyway, I think there's a certain amount of truth in what you say, but then again if the wider sporting majority includes armchair football fans who aren't bothered about anything other than football, it's hardly surprising, is it? And I think you'll find that Mark Cavendish's name has been steadily rising in terms of recognition over the last 4 don't vote for someone as best sports person when you've never/only just heard of them.

    @42, so only Football and a handful of other sports actually matter? Just because a sport isn't the most popular, doesn't make it irrelevant. Like it or not but road cycling is growing in the UK. Just be happy you don't live in Flanders.

  • Comment number 45.

    'always the BBC give the team award to mainstream sports'

    Yes. Popular sports. The ones with the most people watching and following it.
    As with the womens sports, cycling isn't the most viewed sport out there.


    Equestianism, CYCLING, rowing, figure skating....these are all mainstream/popular sports? I dont think so, and the team award has been given to all of these and a few more, so its a bit of a sweeping statement to say the award always gets given to popular sports because it clearly does'nt.

  • Comment number 46.

    Can't really compare a group of cyclists on designer PEDs to the heroes of '66, with their grit and determination.

  • Comment number 47.

    If the medals/jerseys went to the team then they would qualify as a team sport.

    I know that Cavendish couldn't do it without a team. But he's the only one who got a medal. The same will apply in the Olympics.

    I admire the selflessness of the guys who do the hardwork knowing that they won't share in the glory to the same extent as the main man.

    The same way, in athletics, all members of a relay team (even those who only ran in the heats) will get a medal, and the winner will be the team, no matter if it's the star guy that crosses the line, cycling should give the prize to the team.

    You can't have it both ways. It's either an individual achievement, or a team one.

  • Comment number 48.

    Sorry Jonny but comparing cycling to tiddlywinks is laughable. Whilst cycling may not be a mainstream sport in the UK, on the continent it is the main summer sport. Therefore it makes Cavendish's achievements and the the effort of his team mates even greater.

  • Comment number 49.

    Of course the cycling team is the best team. The problem in Britain is still an incomprehensible, but widespread and strong resentment against cycling. You see it every day on the road when selfish mototists have no qualms killing cyclists because "they are in the way and don't pay road tax". Well, nobody pays road tax. Motorists pay road fund licence because their infernal combustion engines stink out the air.

  • Comment number 50.

    #46 is an ignorant fool. The footists of 66 were not heroes, no grit and determination there. There are no football heroes. You are offending soldiers and firemen etc. Compared to professional cycling, football is tiddlywinks, a walk in the park by overpaid spoiled uneducated selfish greedy antisocial primadonnas. Tour de France etc, now that's where you find grit and determination, generally regarded by experts as the hardest sport in the world.

  • Comment number 51.

    They did well,however it is very much a minority sport and you would think any really fit person would be good at it.Best of luck in the Olympics,hope all the millions spent will pay off.

  • Comment number 52.

    @51 Steve Wilson: you're right, to a point - any fit person who rides a bicycle regularly can become a reasonable cyclist - in the same way that anyone who keeps themself fit and plays football or rugby, or runs regularly, can become good enough to represent a local team at some level. But in all sports, there's a massive difference between the weekend warriors and elite competitors. Don't kid yourself into thinking that anyone who trained enough could ride the Tour de France, say - they really couldn't; these guys are astonishing athletes with amazing physical capabilities and are easily on a par with the very best athletes in other physically demanding sports. What's not so apparent, as Matt Slater is at pains to point out, is the degree of strategic thought and tactical acumen required to win a top-level cycle race. It's actually a more complex, skill-driven and fascinating sport than it seems at first glance.

  • Comment number 53.

    I read this article to get more of an idea how the team contributes in these situations, and like all of the BBC blogs it's just trying to generate traffic so it's entirely possible I may be corrected over what follows. I am largely ignorant about cycling and am happy to admit to that.

    But with those qualifications out the way this article hasn't changed my mind at all, the achievements of the cricketers were supreme. 12 months of repeated domination against two of the hardest teams for that team to play, to become (effective) world champions versus one (admittedly) very well constructed race? Straightforward for me (I take the point about qualification, but it surely doesn't equal domination in the same sense as the cricketers). Surely the sheer number of times Strauss' men repeated the feat surpasses that talked of here?

    I await a massive slagging off.

  • Comment number 54.

    Sadly, this is turning into a "my sport is better than your sport debate". Let's face it, cycling is not a minority sport, it may not be the biggest, but it's cOmfortably in the top ten. You can see this by how regularly it is televised and the fact that two cyclists have won SPOTY in the last four years.

    I think the British cyclist team weren't nominated for the award because the team aren't awarded the road race win, the individual is. If this was the other way around, the team would've had a nomination for sure.

    However, its pretty irrelevant because I still don't think they'd have won. They did well but in cricket we stuffed the Aussies down under before whitewashing the world number 1 test team in our own backyard. We are the undisputed best test team in the world, something you just can't say about our cyclists with such a strong Australian contingent and the likes of the Germans and the Italians.

  • Comment number 55.

    May I summarise ?
    Would you rather be a England or Australian cricket fan in 2011 ? (me ?..GB )
    Would you rather be a GB or Australian cycling fan in 2011 ? .. me ?...Australia )

  • Comment number 56.

    Great article: absolutely spot on. I've watched cycle racing for 26 years and the selflessness, talent, dedication, professionalism and chutzpah shown by our team was remarkable. We are living in a golden cycling age in this country. As other here have said, let's hope understanding and awareness of the skills and tactics of the sport grow, so that more can appreciate what a beautiful and strategic sport it is.

  • Comment number 57.

    Fantastic article - and something I have been thinking about ever since that day in Coppenhagen. As you've rightly pointed out, Matt the achievements of the England cricket team should not be under valued, however it should be put in context of the quality of test cricket in the rest of the world. Yet the GB cycling team went head-to-head with the cycling behemoths of the continent - and beat them at their own game!

    What grinds my gears (to quote Peter Griffin) is that I want SPOTTY to be a review of the sporting year and give a decent representation of 'other' sports - and I put cycling in the 'other' sports category. Instead its become a chincy, fluffy, and all too frequently, cringe-worthy 'show'.

    I understand that Triathlon and Cycling (predominantly mountain biking) are two of the fastest growing participation sports in the UK. Great Britain excelled itself AGAIN in these sports in 2011 - Crissie Wellingtonand the Brownlee brothers in triathlon and Danny Hart in downhill. These guys didn't get a mention at SPOTTY which in my eyes is a serious misgiving by the BBC.

    Great Britain is on a sporting high at present across a wide range of sports, yet coverage and acclaim is still being given to the 'main' sports despite a change in participation and interest in the general public that BBC has not really kept up with.

  • Comment number 58.

    @50 It seems to me that you are the ignorant one. You clearly have a pathological hatred of football; were you always picked last at school?

    The original blog made the comparison with the 1966 effort. Whether the 1966 team was heroic or not is a matter of opinion - the mere fact that someone's opinion differs from yours does not necessarily make that person either ignorant or foolish but, since we are on the subject of ignorance, foolishness and lack of education, whenever you describe something or someone by a list of adjectives, you separate each of the adjectives by commas. Also, "prima" and "donna" are two words.

    It seems to me that you possess all the negative qualities you ascribe to footballers and to no. 46. I sincerely hope the "Teacher" in your username is part of your real name rather than a reference to your profession; otherwise the children of today have no chance.

    Your comments @49 are as risible as they are insulting.

  • Comment number 59.

    Good article which taught me a great deal. I'm not a cycling enthusiast but do appreciate the GB Team cyclists' awesome achievements in recent years.

    Whilst appreciating that Cavendish is a worthy winner of SPOTY, I must observe that the field of nominees was unusually weak this year. I had to look up who 4 of the final 10 were and I consider myself a sports enthusiast!

    (Golf is not a sport, I should add.)

  • Comment number 60.

    @53 You talk about the amount of times Struass et al repeated there feat. Give Cav and the boys a chance. There hasn't been much since the World Champs for him.

    @41 Jonny im guessing that reply was for me. I think the fact it isn't mainstream and doesn't have the publicity that footballers get makes it all the more impressive. I failed to acknowledge your 'tiddilywinks' story as it has no merit in this sense, these men raced at a high pace for 240k (footballers maintain a high level throughout a 90+minute game) which again gives it so much merit.

    Are you saying that Ennis's medal is worth more than Williams medal to the BOA because more people know what running is? Nonsense sporting achievement is measured in the success not in how many people like it.

  • Comment number 61.

    Also just to add @41 if we take the SPOTY as a cross section of the British sport watching public almost half knew at least who Cav was (im sure many others did) and they felt he merited being the SPOTY for his achievements.

  • Comment number 62.

    Excellent article & a thoroughly deserved SPOTY award for Cavendish.

    I must admit I really like him, there is something reassuring about the fact that first and foremost he is a sportsman, that's his job, that's what he's paid to do. He's not some overly mdeia trained cliche monger who says the things he's expected to. When asked a question he gives an honest answer, I think its wrong that is ever mistaken for arrogance. Not once in any interview I seen with him have I felt he is paying lip service to the job his team does for him. Also remember although in a team race the personal pressure on him to finish the job after all those guys have got him there must be huge! Imagine having to look Wiggins in the face after the miles he put in at the front of the peloton ended up in vain.......

  • Comment number 63.

    Anyway, time to stop talking about trivial matters, like cycling and cricket, today 'The Citizens' will continue their march to be the 'SPOTY' (whatever that is) team of the year for 2012 by pumelling MUFC comprehensively @ Etihad Stadium (Eastlands). Theres an 'Etihad Park' in Melbourne so I'm confused about this. Who is this man Etihad, and why is his influence so global and pervasive. I'm predicting a United 3-0 @ 1/2 time, then City to come back and win 6-5, with Joe Hart doing a 'Jimmy Glass' and volleying the winner with a Rooney overhead kick after venturing up the field in the last minute of the game. Following this Sir Alax's head will explode and riots will last in Manchester for a week, followed by a sixties love in for all Manchester the week after. The Pope will then declare himself a lifelong Bert Trautman fan, beatify him and admit that he had always been a closet City fan.

  • Comment number 64.

    Oh HELL no.

    England's Ashes team didn't just have a 1966 year, they had one twice. Beating Australia in their own backyard simply isn't done. Whitewashing the number one team in the world simply isn't done. Yet they've done both. Throughout, they've been model sportsmen, and (importantly for a team personality award) the nation knows who each of them are, despite them being on Sky. For them not to win the team award would have been nothing short of criminal.

    Speaking of criminal omissions, let's talk about golf - three of the top four players in the world, two majors last year, and one of them to a kid who's just loaded with personality (McIlroy; I wasn't going to state it but I can only figure from the voting stats that no-one has a clue). To those who state that golf is not a sport but cycling is - I've done both, and I know what requires more skill. There is barely a country in the world where people can afford to buy either clubs or a racing bike that isn't represented on the major golf tours, so you can hardly accuse it of not being a mass participation sport. Yet barely a scratch on the voting percentages. If you want to talk about snobbery towards certain sports, then this can only be described as another ugly example of Britain's tall poppy syndrome.

    It's bad enough in my opinion, Matt, that in a year in which Britain totally dominated two global mass participation sports in cricket and golf, that a cyclist won the main award. Now you want the cycling team to take a clean sweep of Sports *Personality* Of The Year? Well, just who are these "personalities" of whom you speak? The seven guys, five of whom you freely admit were non-entities prior to this year? Because I watch a lot of sport, and I only recognise three names from this article. Maybe it's because I can afford Sky and get to watch the sport people care about enough to pay for. If cycling ever became popular - "weekend warriors" (gag) aside - make no mistake, Sky will buy it and then you can watch these guys fade into the utter obscurity their sport enjoyed prior to Murdoch's involvement in British TV watching habits.

    Yes to Sky

  • Comment number 65.

    @ danny height:

    The only thing that could improve that scenario for me would be if City were losing at full time, Mancini is spotted ranting at the fourth official, and an inexplicable 10 minutes are added allowing City to score their last two goals...

  • Comment number 66.


    Well, it's still on! ;)

  • Comment number 67.

    I don't doubt that the GB cycling team deserved a nomination (or even the award) for team of the year - I do think that the BBC really need to look at how the shortlists for every award are put together. Not only were there no women nominated for the main award, (I know its been harped on about) but yet again it seems like its only mainstream sports which were recognised. I am an avid supporter of GB Equestrian teams, both in Eventing and Dressage - yet the only time someone has been nominated was when she happened to be a member of the royals! (I do believe Zara was worthy of the award - but there are many more members of the sport of eventing that have done a lot in the last few year - Mary King, Pippa Funnell and William Fox-Pitt to name a few!).

    My main bone of contention is that the GB dressage team were not even nominated for the team award this year. Let me direct you to one of the BBC's own articles!
    Not only did they win the Europeans with a record breaking score, but they are the first british team ever to do so. Considering that the Dutch and Germans in the past have been a class above the rest of the world - to me it seems just as much of an achievement as the RWC 2003, or (dare i say it - it may be blasphemy?!) the world cup of 1966.

    All I can say, is that hopefully when the Equestrian members of team GB lift many gold medals at the olympics this year they will at least be mentioned and maybe even shortlisted!!

  • Comment number 68.


    3-1 it's all going to plan......

  • Comment number 69.

    @60 Title of the blog? Why Britain's cylists were the real team of 2011.

    That was why I thought the point was relevant.

  • Comment number 70.


    that comment was relevant, I agree the english cricket lad's deserved it. infact since the Ashes they have hooked me, a Scot's man, to the sport. I just meant give them time and dominance will be theirs. I understand your point completely.

  • Comment number 71.

    @60, 61...70 etc etc. Thankfully, you aren't really in a position to evaluate and dole out merit, otherwise we'd have minority sports plastered over the T.V. and noone except you and the 170,000 who voted for Cavendish would watch them. I fail to acknowlege your comment on SPOTY being an accurate cross section of the sport watching public (though i'm sure it has merit), as it is only a cross section of people who take an interest in the result of Sports Personality of the Year, and to presume otherwise lacks objectivity. The person who came in second place drinks in my local, and gets a lot of support here, yet at no point did anyone mentioned voting in the SPOTY, I think you can take from that how much of an accurate portrayal of the British sport watching public the competition is. Finally, I'm sure it takes superhuman effort to participate and win endurance sports like cycling and running etc, and i'm sure there are many tactical nuances which aren't immediately obvious, but it lack mainstream interest as the sport watching majority don't regard it interesting as a spectacle. For these reasons I made my original point that the road team should not be considered for team of the year and regardless of your own partisan opinion, this is a reality and isn't really up for debate.

  • Comment number 72.

    @71 - the flaw with your argument being not everyone who follows cycling is going to be bothered about SPOTY.

    I don't watch cycling because it's a minority sport, I watch it because I personally find it the most exciting sport. Before I started following cycling I only followed football, cricket, motor sport and tennis. So really minority.

    Interest is massively on the increase over the last few years - it's nothing to do with it not being enough of a spectacle; it's to do with history, actually. Road cycling was banned in Britain from 1872 until some time after World War II, and everything stems from that. That's why there's such little understanding of road cycling today, unlike in France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Spain etc, because the history simply isn't there. The whole sport bypassed Britain for 75 years.

    And for your information I don't really think the British team should have been team of the year either, as brilliant as they were, but not for the same reasons. For me the England cricket team were deserving winners.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 72 - you'd have to admit though that the percentage of those who care about SPOTY is probably going to higher for cycling since both are broadcast on the BBC.

    I'll admit, I've never been remotely interested in watching cycling. I'm sure there's great deal of skill and tactical nous involved, but if there is, it's pretty esoteric. There's also the long history of drug scandals, which accounts for a lot of the "superhuman" feats cited above. My favourite "minority" sport is MotoGP, primarily because I also ride and race bikes and can therefore appreciate quite how ridiculous the top guys are. If the unthinkable happened and a Brit managed to win the MotoGP championship, I'd probably be on here making a case for that guy to win SPOTY. But not in 2011, because 2011 was the year of England's cricket team.

    I also think there's something to be said for weighting the shortlists in favour of mass participation sports. Take the post about equestrianism above. The worldwide levels of participation are so low that it's simply impossible to tell whether these guys are objectively good or not. That's why for me, England's cricket side whitewashing the Indian cricket team - a number one-ranked side with literally a half billion players to choose from - ranks as the greatest team achievement in 2011.

    I will admit that no particular player from the England side stood out as the guy who won the matches for them (was honestly quite surprised to see Strauss and Cook nominated over Swann, who dominates both in terms of world ranking and personality) and so was not overly put out by Cavendish winning the individual award.

  • Comment number 74.

    @72 I would never suggest that you or anyone else would watch a minority sport for the sake of it as that would be ridiculous, nor at any point did I say EVERYONE who follows cycling follows SPOTY so I'd prefer you didn't put words in my mouth. Your point on the history of the sport is actually quite interesting, I googled it after you mentioned it. But regardless of why a minority sport is a minority sport, it still is one so it wasn't really relevant to my point either, finally for YOUR information I'm not surprised a cycling fan doesn't think the team should be team of the year in light of the England cricket teams performance, as most objective sport fans including myself would agree with you. So apart from arguing with things I didn't say/agreeing with me, do you have a point? I apologise if I seem in any way antagonistic but I don't think you actually read any of my previous comments before jumping to conclusions.

  • Comment number 75.

    @71 how arrogant are you? "this is a reality and isn't really up for debate."
    Well then why troll on a cycling blog article. The fact is it is up for debate. It is people like you that will mean that British sport will never advance fully as it has in other countries. We need to embrace sports where we can actually succeed instead of being stuck on something that happened almost 50 years ago. By increasing viewing and participation it increases sponsorship money, which then increases the sport further. I think if it was such a minority sport as you are keen to point out, companies like Sky wouldn't be pumping as much money in to it. Maybe you a should take the blinkers off and learn something about the sport before commenting on its merit.

    Also I didn't once say that the SPOTY was an accurate cross section of the sport watching public but I said lets use it as one. So I would "prefer you didn't put words in my mouth."

  • Comment number 76.

    A very well deserved honour for Cav. However, lets not forget that Bradley Wiggins is the National Champion beating Cav over a hilly course last year. Whilst there is not a better sprinter in the world than Cav, overall Bradley Wiggins is the better rider as will be seen when they clash in this years Olympic Road Race where team tactics will not be allowed in the individual event.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 76. Not sure where you've got your information from, but I'm pretty sure you'll see team tactics in the Olympic road race. The course will suit Cav and realistically, Brad Wiggins has no chance of winning the road race, although he could/should medal in the time trial. There will only be 5 riders allowed though, so Cav will not gain the same teamwork benefit as he did at last year's Worlds. This comparing of their respective abilities totally misses the point and is generally made by those with a limited understanding of the sport. To reiterate, Cav is NOT trying to win the TdF - he's a sprinter and his aim is to win the sprinter's jersey, which he did! Wiggins will always beat Cav over hilly terrain - he's trained specifically for climbing and time-trialling.

  • Comment number 78.

    Comment 61, direct quote. '...Also just to add @41 if we take the SPOTY as a cross section of the British sport watching public...' I must have snuck onto your account and put those words in your mouth, i apologise...
    I read an article in which an opinion was expressed and I disagreed with it, if thats 'trolling a cycling blog article' I apologise insincerely to you. And i'm not in the least bit arrogant, i will freely admit that I don't follow cycling but I agreed there was superhuman effort and tactical nuances involved. The reality that is not up for debate is that a relatively unpopular sport in the grand scheme of things should not win team of the year, it seems my only arrogance is to dare to try and disagree with you, and while I am fully aware that my opinions may be unfair to the sporting merit of cycling, you seem to think everything you say is right, narcasist much? To 'embrace sports were we actually succeed' is a terrible attitude to have (and for where i'm from would not make for many sports), and it is a stupid comment to make I'm afraid, demonstrating the kind of sports fan you are. I follow a variety of sports teams regardless of their performance, and thoroughly enjoy myself win or lose. You can 'if and but' your way through cycling's potential if you want, I'd prefer to not constantly repeat that it isn't popular enough to win team of the year, as I don't think an objective opinion registers within your bubble.

  • Comment number 79.

    @72 - Agreed, there was a big interest this year in SPOTY from the cycling community because Cav went in as favourite. But you say cycling is broadcast on the BBC - actually only the World Championships (for some reason) is. More cycling is actually on ITV (and any significant race is covered by Eurosport).

    As for drug scandals, yeah, cycling has been in a bad way over the last 20 years (though vastly improved recently), but sports like football police the drug culture much "better" and when Barca, Real and two other clubs (Valencia and Real Betis I think?) were involved in a major blood doping scandal in 2006 that was all swept under the carpet, which was handy. But that's another story...

    @Jonny, I didn't mean to put words into your mouth - I thought you were suggesting that, and I assure you I read all your comments.

    As for where we disagree, my point is that the British team's achievement should not be discounted simply because it is a "minority sport" (and if it is minority then I would say it is a significant minority), but rather this award would be based on one race alone, as incredible (and surprising) as their performance was. I think they would be worthy nominations, but the manner in which the England cricket team asserted themselves as the No.1 test side in the world did it for me. That's all I'm saying. Hopefully that was clearer.

  • Comment number 80.

    It was a great individual victory only made possible by a remarkable eam performance before. It was gripping television watching it unfold and felt like Brits v the rest of the world for the whole race, i've never seen a race or stage play out quite like that with almost no-one else helping to set the tempo or close down breaks (although it should be mentioned the Germans did help for a while early on in the race with Bert Grabsch putting in a big effort). The final turn by Wiggins on the front setting the tempo was remarkable.

    As for cricket. No doubt the England cricket team are the best in the world but a bit of perspective is needed on their achievement. Comparision to what the British cycling team did this summer in helping Cavendish to victory is bad enough but to compare it to the football world cup victory in 1966 is laughable. The Ashes is little more than a glorified friendly between the same two teams every time - similar to the old Home Internationals in football. Nice to win sure, but to the rest of the sporting world - "big deal".

  • Comment number 81.

    @78 you are twisting it to fit your uses. I said lets use it as a cross section of the sport watching public, never did I say it was accurate but I used it as a section of data. So again please stop putting words in my mouth.

    The merit of a sporting achievement is not a popularity contest. It is measured on the feat of the achievement not by how many people watch the sport.

    On my point of embracing sports where we are actually sucessful. How much money gets pumped into the 4 home nation international teams, for what return? One tournement win in almost 50 years. Imagine if a fraction of that money could be used to boost athletics, cycling, swimming, winter sports, rugby and other sports where the yeild reguarly exceeds the return of football. I never stated I only follow successful teams: I'm Scottish success for my international teams are rare. So again, please stop putting words in my mouth.

    And finally it does seem really arrogant to me that you would say during a debate that "this isn't up for debate." It also doesn't seem right that you can completely denounce a sport or its achievements when you admit to not having a great knowledge of the sport. It seems you feel your opinion is more valid for mine as yours is the end of the debate.

  • Comment number 82.

    81. Again, you seem confused by the phrase, 'put words in my mouth,' that is when you DON'T say something and someone infers that you did. Whereas on both occasions you actually did say something to which i quoted you directly, and later on decided to change the inflection to suit the changeable nature of your weak arguement, in which you tell me what i'm trying to say, rather than focussing on what i did say.
    You really are like a broken record, constantly chanting your mantras as if i am arguing with them and not recognising my point: yes im sure the sport and the achievement has plenty of merit (again).
    When I said that that a particular fact, 'wasn't up for debate,' I was presuming that any objective person would recognise a reality, a given, and wouldn't attempt to debate it, i suppose on reflection I should have said that, 'it wasn't up for debate but i'm sure your going to', but retrospect is a fickle mistress.
    Also, the money is not 'pumped in' to football, or any other sport, it is made available by the popularity of the sport in the first place, if cycling became hugely popular here then a lot of money would be made available to it through advertising revenue and private investment as in football. If your suggesting making sport into one all encompassing socialist entity in which funds are distributed equally regardless of were the initial money was made, then good luck, I hope you are successful.
    And finally on your last point, in what way did i denounce the sport? at all times i recognised the effort and difficulty but merely suggested the team wasn't popular enough and didn't have enough of the extra burden of public interest to win an award that encompassed all sports. feel free to quote me directly on my denouncements, as I have when you have written something, and I promise I won't backtrack on it as you have.

  • Comment number 83.

    I am bored of this. I didn't once state it was an accurate cross section but that we could use it as a cross section (never stating the accuracy of it) as it is what I have avalible to me.

    As for the point about 'not being up for debate beacuse and obkective person would recognise, a reality, a given, and wouldn't attempt to debate it.' What value does life have if we can't debate and stimulate on points we feel strongly about. Regardless of anything you say to me a sporting achievement should be measured on the achievement not on the popularity of the sport. This is my opinion but you seem to feel it is wrong in comparison to yours.

    I feel that calling it a minority sport without backing this up is denouncing a sport, that has a huge following when avalible to people to watch. Its funny that cycling sports at the olympics sold out but there is still tickets for, a majority sport by your definition, the football events.

  • Comment number 84.

    I see little difference, you used it as evidence to support your arguement, and now you backtrack, citing pedantic details in the wording.
    Calling a sport that is followed by a minority of sports fans a minority sport is in no way denouncing the sport, don't be ridiculous. and you seemed to agree on that point earlier in your malformed arguement, 60. '...I think the fact it isn't mainstream and doesn't have the publicity that footballers get makes it all the more impressive...'
    While I don't want to get into a 'which is better, football or cycling' debate, as I have no interest in debating for or against, your example of the cycling events being sold out and the football event having not sold out is as flawed as your SPOTY example, if not more so as it proves my point and not your own. The olympic velodrome has a capacity of 6,000 whereas the SIX football venues range from 90,000 to 32,000. Clutch at straws much? feel free to resume backtracking.
    while you may be bored of this, and yet you feel debate adds value to life tc etc, maybe calling me out with comments such as 'you are ignorant,' and 'you embarassed yourself with a comment like that' for expressing an objective opinion, and then failing to back up your own absurd conjectures seems a tad hypocritical in my books. Maybe you should develop a coherent arguement before being judge and jury over others in future.

  • Comment number 85.

    I've not read your comment in work but i was comming back to say sorry for saying I was bored, seems very rude now. Give me a bit for a proper reply.


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