Some big things happened in cycling in 2013. Chris Froome won the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins became Sir Bradley Wiggins, the growth in the numbers of cyclists continued and inadequate infrastructure sometimes struggled to cope, with tragic consequences.
There was a change at the top of world cycling’s governing body when Brian Cookson replaced Pat McQuaid as president of the UCI after an acrimonious election battle. Meanwhile in the background the saga of who did what during the Armstrong years continued to unravel messily. They were the big themes of the year.
None of them made it in to our Top 10 of the most read news stories of 2013 though. Here are the stories that did.
Our single most read cycle sport story wasn’t Chris Froome winning the Tour de France, or Sir Bradley Wiggins’ miserable Giro, or even the hugely diverting soap opera of the relationship between Britain’s two top cyclists. Nope, far and away the biggest single race news story on road.cc this year was about Peter Sagan and his wandering hands at the Tour of Flanders.
The incident in which Sagan pinched the behind of 25 year-old Maja Leye as she gave race winner Fabian Cancellara a congratulatory peck on the cheek saw the Slovak forced to make a comprehensive apology.
Sagan’s pinch led to a wider debate that encompassed the role of podium girls, sexism in cycle sport and even the cultural divide between European cycle sport fans and their British and North American counterparts. Last week Cannondale gave Maja a new bike for Christmas.
Guy Martin and his record breaking Rourke is the most recent story in our Top 10, accelerating in to 9th spot with a late burst of speed.
Martin, who is best known for his exploits as a TT racer on the Isle of Man, broke the 23 year old British Motor Paced record, reaching a speed of 112mph on Pendine Sands in the slipstream of a souped up lorry. The previous record of 110mph was set by Dave Le Grys in 1986.
Martin's feat was broadcast on Channel 4 last night the first in his new series, Speed with Guy Martin. If you didn’t see it then it’s currently available on 4oD, Channel 4’s catch up service.
Cheating. We all hate cheating, except possibly on Strava. The Digital EPO website allows users to ’enhance’ their performance before uploading their data, negating at a stroke, the planning, dedication and sheer bloody effort involved in getting out there and driving your GPS to that KOM. Pah!
Speaking of cheating, everybody’s favourite Texan (well, maybe not everyone’s) provided our 7th most viewed story, tweeting a picture of his new bike which wasn’t a Trek. Tut, tut. (And yeah okay we said he wasn't in the list but by our interpretation of the rules this one is about his bike).
Road rage makes an unwelcome but unsurprising appearance at No 6 on our list. In this case an unpleasant incident in the West Midlands captured on video by the victim who took it to the police and was told that they wouldn’t be charging the perpetrator with a criminal offence because ‘their hands were tied’ by Home Office guidelines.
At five a sobering collision of ill advised teenage tweeting, cycle hatred, and social media vitriol that made it in to the national media. No, it’s not ‘Her’, it’s her South London echo, Daisy Abela, demonstrating yet again that certain members of the younger generation should be made to pass a special exam before being allowed access to car keys or an internet connection.
A lot of vicious and intemperate things were said on social media which were not really excused by what Daisy did or didn’t do. Daisy issued an abject apology. We all felt sorry for her mother. Well, parents did.
The only person to come out of this one well was the unknown cyclist and there’s a good chance he was a figment of Ms Abela’s imagination.
When you’re used to seeing someone do impossible things on a bike it’s easy to imagine that things never go wrong. But of course they do even for the best, even for Martyn Ashton, a man who spent the best part of the last 20 years in mid air on a bicycle, often upside down.
In September Martyn suffered life changing spinal injuries when a stunt went wrong during a trials demo at the Moto GP at Silverstone.
Martyn had recently won himself a whole new audience when he showed just what could be done on a road bike in his Road Bike Party video. Aside from the stunts what really pleased Ashton about Road Bike Party was that he did it all on one bike and one seat of wheels. When he said he wanted to show what a road bike could do he really meant it.
Martyn was working on the sequel, Road Bike Party 2 when fate intervened. That didn’t stop him though and with the help of friends Danny MacAskill and Chris Akrigg he completed the film. It went live on YouTube on December 10 and has so far had over seven million views.
Man, car, bicycle, social media and the immortal phrase “Good luck finding me on foreign plates” combine in our third most viewed story of the year.
Luck doesn’t really come in to it when half the town of Hale seemingly knows who you are anyway and then takes to Twitter to tell everyone else that you are Premier League footballer Steven N’Zonzi.
And then…? At the end of September Greater Manchester Police passed a file on the case to the Crown Prosecution Service since when they’ve been mulling it over/forgotten about it (delete as applicable).
At two it’s the darker side of Scandinavia’s love affair with the bicycle. It’s a classic tale, boy meets bicycle, bicycle doesn’t belong to boy, boy has sex with it anyway. We’ve all been there… oh, hang on.
Police in the Swedish town of Osterlund were linking the case to a similar series of unsolved incidents in 2007. Earlier in the year we reported that Danish police were trying to catch a man who repeatedly masturbated on the saddle of a woman’s bike when it was parked at the local railway station while she was at work. Takes all sorts eh?
It had to be her! Emma Way, the woman who launched a million angry tweets and became a social media phenomenon with just one — stop before you press send — tweet bearing the now legendary hashtag #bloodycyclists.
This first story got a huge amount of traffic, it was also our most commented on story of the year, but such was your appetite for all things Emma that every twist in the tale attracted huge numbers of readers.
The series of events that were to catapault Emma to internet notoriety began in a Norfolk country lane on a Sunday in May when Emma’s car with her at the wheel collided with cyclist Toby Hockley.
The facts of the collision are disputed, and Ms Way was subsequently found not guilty of careless driving.
Thankfully Toby was not badly hurt and the incident would have been chalked up as another unfortunate but unremarkable encounter between driver and cyclist until Emma took to Twitter. If you tried to write a tweet to annoy as many cyclists as possible you couldn’t beat hers. That tweet and the reaction to it made the trainee accountant famous:
Definitely knocked a cyclist off earlier - I have right of way he doesn't even pay road tax #bloodycyclists
The upshot for a largely unrepentant Emma was a £300 fine, seven points on her licence and costs when she was found guilty of failure to stop after an accident and failure to report an accident.
She also lost her job, but got a new one plus some day time TV appearances and newspaper interviews.
Toby confounded the media stereotype of the shouty cyclist by being magnanimous and dignified throughout, though a lot of other cyclists did a lot of shouting via their keyboards.
#Bloodycyclists was embraced a a badge of honour by cyclists — you can even buy a #Bloodycyclists jersey — and a lot of people had second thoughts before pressing send on that inflammatory tweet or Facebook post; but then again, a lot of people didn’t.
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