The unthinkable - the impossible - became reality during the summer with Bradley Wiggins winning the ‘Tour de France’. A British winner; this has never happened in the 100 years since its conception in 1902. It is indescribable to explain the incredible individual effort that goes toward winning that title. Although his victory represents a pinnacle of overarching achievement in British Cycling that set the scene for victory at the Olympics.
Every revolution of the wheel, every tear, every push, every failure, every victory is observed by the Velodrome crowd and indeed a minor share of the population of Britain. Sometimes the margin of winning is so fine it can only be measured in a thousand of a second. Even the slightest mistake can cost valuable tenths of a second, a few places and ultimately a medal. This makes the achievement of the cyclists even more impressive.
The Beijing Olympics solidified Britain’s position as the major players within Track Cycling with an impressive haul of 11 medals. The 2012 olympics changed track cycling however with the inclusion of the mammoth Omnium event which consists of six individual disciplines. Rather than being discouraged by the move and the consensus of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) who were trying to cease the domination of the British team; Britain took the challenge putting forward young riders Ed Clancy who earned a bronze medal and Laura Trott who won the gold.
Victory came at every corner for the British Track cycling team who gained an impressive 9 medals, superceeding Beijing’s 7 gold medals. Bradley Wiggins, the poster child for Beijing success, was taken off the track and put into the road cycling events. This was a good decision coming from a successful Tour de France campaign. He swiftly delivered: winning a gold in the time trial event. Unfortunately no medals were won by Shanaze Reade Britain’s principle women’s BMX rider, despite her very encouraging qualification and seeding rounds. She is talking about a return to track cycling for Rio in 2016.
Chris Hoy and Victoria Pendleton, the centurions of track cycling, are retiring after these games and managed three golds and a silver between them. Victoria Pendleton was very unlucky in her events getting a disqualification in the Womens Team Sprint, as she also missed the gold in the Womens Individual Sprint when a controversial discussion led to a deciding round going to her nemesis Anna Meares. Hoy and Pendleton where handing over the weighty sprinting responsibility to new and relatively unknown athletes such as Ed Clancy who won a silver in Beijing behind Chris Hoy. Laura Trott represents the new golden girl of track cycling taking over from the might of Victoria Pendleton. The motto for the London Olympic games is ‘Inspire a generation’ and the success of the Track cycling represents a legacy that should see more talent being discovered and more people taking up cycling. It is a call to arms to the British people to follow up this with Olympic success with achievement in future Olympics. Now Britain, it’s your move.