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Meanwhile, Giles Coren stirs up minor Twitterstorm with 'never heard of him' Cav tweet...

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.

37 comments

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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Alan Brazil....now there's a name from the past. Who was the guy who was his partner at Ipswich....was it Paul Mariner or was he earlier? Used to rate them...

You quite often hear the "Is xxxx really a sport?" question. In particular "sports" like darts, snooker and golf spring to mind. For me anything where you get hot and sweaty and burn lots of calories would quite happily tick my mental "sport" box. Except perhaps sex.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 4 years ago
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I love the story of the rather posh prospective student at an Oxford college who was asked whether he took part in any "sport".

He enthusiastically outlined his lifelong love of hunting, shooting and fishing.

One of the academics interviewing him said they were thinking rather of pursuits such as rugby or cricket.

"Oh," he replied. "You mean games?"

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WolfieSmith [1314 posts] 4 years ago
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Forgive Coren. He knows not what he says.

I am exasperated with the continued ignoring of cycling (and women's sport) by much of the press. I had a twitter exchange last week with the Guardian sports desk who pleaded that they had talked a lot about Cav this year and then said they were doing all they could when I asked them why they couldn't at least cover the TDF more thoroughly in July instead of page after page of cricket, racing and off season footie and rugby speculation?

It's a easy sport to criticise as the drug scandal chugs on. Any discussion of the performance drugs in swimming and athletics is shot down and any suggestion of performance drugs in football is met with derision even though if I was looking for steroid and HGH abuse in sport the Premiership U21's is the first place I'd go looking
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The real problem with cycling as a mass interest sport is that for men it means watching men wearing lycra (which just isn't manly) let alone donning it - and for women it isn't easy to pee at the side of the road so women are few and far between on sportives.

On the plus side there are so many new fans of the TDF every year and the other grand tours and classics are beginning to gain attention as well. So many of my friends who don't cycle were suddenly watching the Tour this year - many of them women. The sheer majesty of seeing Europe from the air on the grand tours is pulling more and more people into Eurosport and ITV4 -if only to look for holiday destinations - but more and more of them are starting to understand the team systems and the fantastic ways in which each day's racing can play out.

The other plus is there are, I suspect, just as many dads taking up sportives as golf now as health is on the agenda like never before and a bike is a damn sight more beautiful and satisfying than a set of clubs.

It is still going to be a while before you regularly hear 2 armchair cyclists in the pub who haven't pedalled since they were 10 years old sagely discussing the respective merits of Saxobank v Rabobank but I think it's getting better!

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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MercuryOne wrote:

I am exasperated with the continued ignoring of cycling (and women's sport) by much of the press.

Yeah, but this'll change, give it time. Just think how many more people you see on the road now than ten years ago. Just think how ten years ago the only cycling we saw on tv was the TdF, now we can get most of the classics and all the grand tours.

You never know there may come a day when cycling is considered a mainstream sport as it is on the continent.

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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+1 Simon, love it

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TheHatter [770 posts] 4 years ago
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Am I the only one that doesnt want cycling to be mainstream?
Football's mainstream and look at the state of that.

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dave atkinson [6201 posts] 4 years ago
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i fondly remember watching alan brazil from atop my milk crate in the churchman's stand at portman road. i always fell off it when we scored. didn't he get five in a match once? great player.

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WolfieSmith [1314 posts] 4 years ago
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TheHatter wrote:

Am I the only one that doesnt want cycling to be mainstream?
Football's mainstream and look at the state of that.

It's tricky. I'd like the sport to be appreciated by all the British public - to the extent that they all give me space and referential respect when I'm out on the bike.

What I don't want is for a large proportion of the British public to suddenly becoming overnight experts on pro cycling and sully the whole elegant niche glory of the sport for us effete connoisseurs with their cheapening bovine gaze.

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Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts] 4 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

I love the story of the rather posh prospective student at an Oxford college who was asked whether he took part in any "sport".

He enthusiastically outlined his lifelong love of hunting, shooting and fishing.

One of the academics interviewing him said they were thinking rather of pursuits such as rugby or cricket.

"Oh," he replied. "You mean games?"

Wasn't "Game" the stuff he shot, tore to pieces with dogs and hooked.......
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paulfg42 [385 posts] 4 years ago
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Might have been a decent player (terrible haircut) but he's as thick as pigsh*t. Why anyone would listen to Talksport might be a better question to ask.

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cat1commuter [1420 posts] 4 years ago
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Football is a game, not a sport. You play a game. You play football, tennis, golf etc... You don't play cycling. Cycling is a sport.

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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Russell Osman? Great team, great manager.
Ipswich (when they played in those white pinstripes) was my favourite Subbuteo team, like, ever!
Sorry am I off topic?

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mrpt5 [62 posts] 4 years ago
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The definition of a sport is that if you have to change your shoes to do it - its a sport. It works for most.
This is a fair enough - it differentiates between 'ordinary' cyclists and competative ones?

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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Hatter when I said mainstream I was thinking particularly of places like Belgium or Holland, where cycling is more in the ether, if you like, not so much with other sports such as football.

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 4 years ago
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Lol @ Pete. I had the team but in striker. Remember the press the top of the head to make them kick?

Anyway, I am always slightly uncomfortable calling anything a sport that can be done while in the pub!

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timbola [241 posts] 4 years ago
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Subbuteo ... now there's football, rugby, cricket - perhaps there should be a Road.cc competition to devise a Subbuteo Track Cycling game  4 ! Sorry, do I mean sport ?  39
Where does cycle polo come into the equation ?
Merry Christmas(time) and a Happy New Year to everyone, by the way !

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Raleigh [1665 posts] 4 years ago
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The definitive definition of distinction between sport and game, is that you can smoke a cigarette in one, but not the other...  15

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bikecellar [268 posts] 4 years ago
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My younger brother was a Subbuteo fanatic, with all the teams playing in a league and cup competitions, he had loads of stats, a sort of early pre computor fantasy football, John Motson of Subbuteo. He never played for real but coached and assisted with youth teams.

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm all for definitive definitions, they're by far the best kind.

My mum still has all my subbuteo stuff - plus a few hundred Everton programs dating from the late seventies - in the loft. I hope. One day I'll flog it all, get very rich, and contribute rubbish to this site from my yacht in Brixham.

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mrkeith119 [87 posts] 4 years ago
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Surely it's not as black and white as is cycling a sport or not, If your racing or training it's a sport, but if your commuting or going somewhere it's travelling, and if your just going for a ride then it's a hobby.

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scotter [55 posts] 4 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:

I love the story of the rather posh prospective student at an Oxford college who was asked whether he took part in any "sport".

He enthusiastically outlined his lifelong love of hunting, shooting and fishing.

One of the academics interviewing him said they were thinking rather of pursuits such as rugby or cricket.

"Oh," he replied. "You mean games?"

Love it!
Any chance of finding out who/when/where?

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Super Domestique [1596 posts] 4 years ago
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mrkeith119 wrote:

Surely it's not as black and white as is cycling a sport or not, If your racing or training it's a sport, but if your commuting or going somewhere it's travelling, and if your just going for a ride then it's a hobby.

True. But then most sports fans would accept motorsport yet you can also drive to the supermarket.

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pmr [196 posts] 4 years ago
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At the end of the day we (cyclists/fans) need to rise above the anti-cycling brigade. None of them can stop the increasing popularity of our sport/means of transport.
I think its some kind of self defense they put up to cover up their own in securities. Its the same people that shout names out of their car windows and make fun when I'm out running or cycling, its just easier for them to make fun than admit to themselves that they'd love to be able to do what we do, just they haven't got it in them.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 4 years ago
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scotter wrote:

Love it!
Any chance of finding out who/when/where?

No idea I'm afraid, details have been lost in the retelling.

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otleyrich [9 posts] 4 years ago
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You 'play' games; football, rugby, tiddlywinks. You 'do' sports; cycling, running etc ;->

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CraigTheBiker [11 posts] 4 years ago
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It always amazes me how such non issues always provoke so much reaction and debate. And yet, here I am rising to the bait!

If you check the definition of 'sport' on any of the online dictionary sites, it is blatantly obvious that cycling would be classified as a sport.

Methinks Mr Brazil, and his Talksport employers, know exactly what will happen as a result of saying something so controversial: lots of free publicity, an increase in website traffic and a lot more listeners!

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downfader [203 posts] 4 years ago
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otleyrich wrote:

You 'play' games; football, rugby, tiddlywinks. You 'do' sports; cycling, running etc ;->

I'm not so sure. Sportsmanship comes from a sense of fairplay and I see that in many competitive games and activities. To me there are physical sports and non-physical.

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TheHatter [770 posts] 4 years ago
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MercuryOne][quote=TheHatter wrote:

Am I the only one that doesnt want cycling to be mainstream?
Football's mainstream and look at the state of that.

Quote:

It's tricky. I'd like the sport to be appreciated by all the British public - to the extent that they all give me space and referential respect when I'm out on the bike.

That would be nice but unless they actually think you're Cav (or as they'd put it "that bloke in the head & shoulders ad") then I'd be surprised if it would make the blindest bit of difference. Car culture won't be changed in this country at least even if a Brit won all the grand tours and every classic.

Quote:

What I don't want is for a large proportion of the British public to suddenly becoming overnight experts on pro cycling and sully the whole elegant niche glory of the sport for us effete connoisseurs with their cheapening bovine gaze.

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Beautifully put!  4

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notfastenough [3665 posts] 4 years ago
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Cheapening bovine gaze... Awesome bit of writing!  4

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The _Kaner [732 posts] 4 years ago
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Football = game...as in the immortal words of Greavesy...'It's a funny old game'...
Just as curling is a game, or bowls....
Cycling...well it's a way of life...My bike says 'sportive' on the top tube not 'gameive'  4 26

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