More gold in the Olympic velodrome! Hoorah! It’s been a fantastic summer for Team GB’s cyclists. We seem to be able to out-pedal anyone in the world. Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Laura Trott and all the others have become national heroes.
We all cheer wildly and patriotically, but hands up anyone who actually understands cycling. Be honest. Events at the Velodrome never seem to be a simple case of everyone starting together and the fastest wins. Sometimes they ride very, very slowly for about ten minutes then suddenly very, very quickly. Sometimes they all ride in a neat little line for seven or eight laps behind a serious little man on an electric bicycle.
Sometimes the person with the fewest points wins. Sometimes the cyclists veer wildly up to the top of the track and back again for no apparent reason. If a rider is stupid enough to fall off at the start, everyone has to stop and come back and they start the race again. We’re all so busy celebrating gold medals that we don’t really like to ask why. It would be so embarrassing to admit we have no idea what’s going on. Even Gary Lineker visibly blushes with his sheer ignorance of the sport when he interviews a cyclist in the studio. And he does this for a living.
Anyone know what Keirin or Omnium actually mean? Why do the cyclists take it in turns to ride at the front of the team? Is Bradley Wiggins really the greatest British sportsman of all time, and what are the rules of the Tour de France anyway? Yellow Jersey? Surely it’s time to admit that most of us have absolutely no idea what’s going on in the sport of cycling. Really, we haven’t got a clue.
Why on Earth don’t the BBC cycling commentators stop assuming that we are all clued-up, card carrying cycling geeks and TELL US THE BLOODY RULES? In this way we will be able to cheer on our splendid British cyclists without quite such an air of British bewilderment.