What does Bradley Wiggins' Tour win mean for cycling in Britain?

Politicians and cycling experts pontificate on how a win will change the landscape

by Sarah Barth   July 22, 2012  

Bradley Wiggins (picture credit Team Sky).jpg

Wiggo's almost-inevitable victory at the Tour de France is an astonishing achievement with its roots in the track medals haul in Beijing, but what does it mean for cycling from this moment in?

Chris Boardman says it's "the biggest thing in the sport of cycling for Great Britain - ever" in an interview with the BBC.

He explained the success begets success argument, saying: "If one of them manages to achieve greatness... the other right next to them says that's a bridgeable gap - I train with them and I beat them upon occasion."

Olympic medallist and chairman of the British Olympic Association, Lord Moynihan said that the win also boded incredibly well for the Olympics, starting next week in London.

"We've been on a long journey and it is appropriate that Bradley Wiggins is closing in on an outstanding success," he said.

"His cycling team is not a team of stars but a star team, and that is the type of approach we have taken to in building this Team GB for the Games."

Dave Brailsford, Team Sky principal, appeared emotional as he spoke about Wiggins on ITV.

He said: "For Bradley to win this race... it's the stuff of dreams, really."

"I wouldn't underestimate the Olympic thing... it's a different sport, a different playing field if you like, but I guess today is all about Bradley and his achievement

He added that the new interest in cycling could inspire a new generation of road cycling champions. "We're trying... to build the base of the pyramid... I like to think we've done our little bit to achieve that."

Olympic track champion Chris Hoy was also cheerleading for the sport's future, telling British Cycling: "It inspires me and it's an amazing story for the sport. You can see it's everywhere in the general media and it can only be good for the sport.

"Hopefully all the benefits of all the Olympic exposure for cycling and the Tour de France and what Mark Cavendish has done over the last few years, will encourage people to get out on their bikes."

William Fotheringham, Wiggins's close friend and author of Roule Britannia, about British cyclists in the Tour, hinted that a TdF victory could signal a Tour return to Britain sooner rather than later, with Yorkshire a favourite to host the start of 2016's event.

"The velodromes and circuits of Britain are full of kids who want to be Wiggins or Cav, and their number will only increase this summer," he said.

"The other thing that will happen, I am certain, is the Tour will return to England, and soon."

Or indeed Scotland as Edinburgh are also bidding for to host the Tour Grand Depart.

Of course just because people know who Bradley Wiggins is that doesn't necessarily mean all will be sweetness and light on the roads of Britian from now, as one member of the cycling Twitterati, Adam Tranter, wryly tweeted:

"Cycling now definitely on the map. This means drivers can now shout "who do you think you are? Barry Wiggins?" before turning left across me."

In a congratulatory message to Wiggins and co, Sally Hinchcliffe from Cycling Embassy of Great Britain warned politicians to make the most of the nation's enthusiasm for the sport.

She said: "What better opportunity will there be for the country's politicians to announce that they will be greeting our returning heroes with a policy that puts cycling right at the heart of the UK's infrastructure?

"Not just as a sport - on closed roads, or velodrome tracks - but designing cycling into every street and every junction. We'd hate to see all those shiny new bikes soon gathering dust in the nation's sheds once our aspiring Wigginses taste the reality of cycling on our roads.

"Let's seize the moment and make Britain's roads fit for all its cycling heroes, be they as fast as the Manx missile, or just pottering down to the shops."

We will be adding further reaction to this story, but we would also like to hear what you think, will Wiggins' win usher in a golden age for cycling in Britain or will it be business as usual for cyclists on Britain's roads?

 

 

19 user comments

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I can't see it affecting white van man or the boy racers any time soon. The only change I see are hoards more roadies out on country lanes on a weekend which is good in itself but for intra city cycling it won't change that much. There will still be drivers in ASLs, cycle lanes and left hooks as per usual.

Simon Mason, Kingston upon Hull

posted by swldxer [34 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 17:24

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I predict more cyclists growing sideburns. Oh please god no.....

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 18:44

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Impossible to make roads fit for pottering down the the shops ( ie dutch style cycle infrastructure) and simultaneously suitable for fast roadies most of whom prefer proper roads. to pretend ones. One of the chicken and egg things we have to get over at some stage.

posted by wyadvd [97 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:07

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londonplayer wrote:
I predict more cyclists growing sideburns. Oh please god no.....

I haven't shaved in a week to get mine like Brad's Big Grin

In all honesty i dont think it will make much difference to cycling in this country. What will make a difference though is if Froome and Wiggins go on to win more Grand Tour titles in the next couple of years.

Its like the Man U, Man C scenario, pump enough money in to generate success and you will always have a growing following. Mind you this Govt will not hand over money for better cycle paths / lanes cos it wont line their own pockets in the long run Angry

Stumpy

posted by stumps [2074 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:11

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Personally I'd prefer cycling to remain a minority sport in this country.
Football is popular and look the state of that.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [805 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:11

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I really hope the end result is a greater proliferation of cycling in the UK. Road riding numbers seem to have increased, (and maintained) here in Sydney after Cadel took the win last year... and that's despite Australian Drivers!

Seriously, Britain; you think you've got bad drivers, (I'm a Brit by the way), you haven't seen anything until you've experienced the almighty c*ntishness of an Australian behind the wheel.

Philx's picture

posted by Philx [37 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:19

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I wish it would mean things change, but i doubt it.

It might bring more in to the sport side of things, but where are they going to race? Will it get kids off X boxes which is what is needed for the sport to grow,.

As for utility cycling, it rains, its too windy, too many drivers, there is always an excuse.

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [571 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 19:32

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mrmo - that will come next i bet - an xbox 2012 TdF where you can play Wiggo Crying

Stumpy

posted by stumps [2074 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 20:05

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Must remember that Team Sky is British Cycling, and judging by the number joining, cycling is becoming a recognise sport the GB is bloody good at.We still have the olympics to look forward too, considering we have Favs in the road, time trial and lets not forget the boys on the track, going for golden glory, in one of the most eagerly awaited finals in the team pursuit. I have followed the sport for nearly 30 years, and beleive me, I never dreamed of this day. I think its going to be a real summer of british cycling to celebrate!

posted by simoncon [49 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 20:34

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simoncon wrote:
We still have the olympics to look forward too, considering we have Favs in the road, time trial and lets not forget the boys on the track, going for golden glory, in one of the most eagerly awaited finals in the team pursuit.

Double that feel-good factor, because the women aren't too shabby either...

posted by DonnyCampo [53 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 20:48

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Will it make a difference to drivers attitudes... possibly. Can we hope that a few more regular cyclists emulate the gentlemanly conduct a la Wiggins? It's nice to be important, it's more important to be nice!

Iration Wheelers's picture

posted by Iration Wheelers [5 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 21:45

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Wiggo's win is an amazing achievement which can only be good for cycling in the UK. Short term, it it's going to be great for retailers as people will be inspired to buy a new/better (road) bike.

It will stimulate interest in Go Ride clubs – drawing more young people into the sport.

With sunny weather here at last, there will probably be a short term surge in cyclist numbers on the roads. A good Olympics could consolidate the trend.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
22nd July 2012 - 22:31

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I'm sure it will help cycling in the UK. If combined with banning Jeremy Clarkson from TV, then I'm sure it'll be extremely beneficicial to all.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1782 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 8:03

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Our club run was in Cheshire yesterday morning, and given all this raising of the proifle and hopes that drivers might notice us a bit more and take care, I found it ironic that the driving was the worst it's been for a while. We came across a Sportive going the other way (roads open though) and the drivers must have already had enough - one pulled out to overtake a rider, completely ignoring the fact that there were 22 of approaching him going the other way. There was also a few instances of drivers standing on the horn for long periods when overtaking a single line of riders on a quiet road, pointlessly intimidating.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2329 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 9:07

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It's definitely got people in London excited about cycling.

Why only this morning a guy on a moped flipped his visor up to have a chat with me about Brad winning the Tour...

...after pulling up next to me in the ASL D Oh

posted by Matt_S [172 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 10:39

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Thanks Matt_S your comment made me LOL

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [419 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 12:59

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TheHatter wrote:
Personally I'd prefer cycling to remain a minority sport in this country.
Football is popular and look the state of that.

Sorry to sound negative but I agree with TheHatter. I'd love more people to cycle -but not at the expenes of turning the sport into a premiership mess of debt and spoilt over expecting 'fans'.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [862 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 22:32

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TheHatter wrote:
Personally I'd prefer cycling to remain a minority sport in this country.
Football is popular and look the state of that.

Sorry to sound negative but I agree with TheHatter. I'd love more people to cycle -but not at the expense of turning the sport into a premiership mess of debt and spoilt over expecting 'fans'.

MercuryOne

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [862 posts]
23rd July 2012 - 22:33

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I have seen this enthusiasim for cycling in the UK before, back in the ANC Halfords days. I went to see the final of the city centre series which was shown on prime time channel 4. An estimated 100,000 people turned up to watch in Westminister; I got a great shot of Malcolm Elliott who won! ANC Halfords even had a team in the Tour. Lots of interest in cycling, questions about the intricacy of the sport. Channel 4 stopped showing it, ANC pulled out of cycling sponsorship....back to minority sport status again. What happens if Sky decide to pull out of cycling sponsorship?

posted by SideBurn [682 posts]
24th July 2012 - 8:51

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