While many in the cycling world and beyond have applauded Mark Cavendish for his winning BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2011 yesterday evening, the world champion winning as many votes as the other nine sportsmen on the short list put together, he - and cycling - appear to have some way to go before enjoying the embrace of the full British public.
A poll currently running on the TalkSport website asks whether former Ipswich Town and Scotland footballer Alan Brazil, who now presents the radio station’s breakfast show, is “correct in believing that cycling is not a sport?”
The poll currently shows that three in four of those voting disagree with Brazil, who also played for clubs including Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and, er, Wollongong City during his career.
Meanwhile, Giles Coren (who he? – ed) tweeted shortly after Cavendish had been revealed as the winner: “I have literally never heard of Mark Cavendish.”
There’s nothing particularly wrong with that – many pointed out that it’s unlikely that Cavendish would have heard of the food critic, TV presenter and novelist either, and to be fair, saying you haven’t heard of someone isn’t necessarily a judgment on them or what they happen to do for a living.
He did, however, manage to push some buttons in his subsequent tweets. One of the more publishable one to the cycling fans taken him to task was, “Woooooooooo. This is hilarious. I haven't seen so many cyclists in such a piss outside of one of those stop the traffic demos.”
Mind you, even we managed a chuckle when after saying, “it seems he won the tour de France. Who knew?” his next tweet exclaimed, “What? He didn't even win it? Then how the f*** on earth could anyone be expected to know who he is? I mean, I didn't win it either.”
We’re picturing rueful nods of agreement from any among you who’ve tried to explain to non-cyclists how the jerseys at the Tour work, only to be met by a blank look of non-comprehension.
Coren himself is no stranger to the bike, however. In a restaurant review published in The Times earlier this year, he describes how he undertook “six years of cycling during my embarrassing ‘green’ period.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.