I’m writing this as Chris Froome saunters towards Paris and about to win the 3rd Tour de France. This is a quite remarkable achievment for Chris and for British cycling which only a few years ago were nowhere in the road cycling lexicon. Its difficult to think of a similar in another sport but if a French man was to win the Tour de France 3 times they would declare a National holiday and provide free wine for a month. Yet I’m underwelmed by the coverage on the Britiah media and I wonder why that might be.
I think we don’t understand cycling in this country. I still hear comments along the lines that ‘..cyclist get in the way..’ and the roads sometimes feel like a war zone. There is a different attitute on the continent where cyclist are given plenty of room. The roots of these differences are well documented and I would not want to reherse them here. My point is that Britain doninates the Tour de France with Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish, Team Sky and Adam Yates and we are as a nation only vaguely interested.
Slowly thinks are changing, there are more cyclist on the road at the weekend and UK cities are seeing a cycling boom. I haven’t seen an increase in the number of bikes in the bike shed at work in Chippenham but I’m aware of the rise of electric bikes as commuting workhorses. The transation from sport, to past time, to every day utility will be slow especially since it is inhibited by the lack of cycling facilities and the lack of investment in cycling infrastructure.
Inch by inch the British public attitutes to cycling will change and the success of Tour de France and the forthcoming Olympics will help. Well done Chris Froome and the rest, you may not get the same recognition that you might have received had you won the football world cup but your success will yield a greater prize. The transformation of a generation.