Visitors to the Pinarello stand at last week’s London Bike Show received far more than the opportunity to admire the latest designs of the Italian bike builder.
Present on the large and impressively clinical stand were three legends of British road racing: Malcolm Elliott, Phil Griffiths, and Barry Hoban. Seizing the opportunity, we quizzed them both to bring you their predictions for the season ahead. Elliot’s thoughts on cycling’s ‘coming of age’ and on his decision not to race again in 2012 can be found here.
Today, we bring you the views of Barry Hoban, a British sprinter whose love of Tour wins saw him collect eight stage victories in the world’s biggest bike race. He raced in arguably the greatest peloton of any era, and his victories often came at the expense of the riders who fill cycling’s hall of fame: Hoban’s triumph at the 1974 Ghent-Wevelgem, for example, left a certain Eddy Mercyx on the podium’s second step.
Here, then, are Hoban’s thoughts on Cavendish’s chances in the Olympic road race, the bridges cycling still has to cross this year, and cycling’s potential to become truly mainstream in 2012.
What are your goals for 2012?
“To keep on living! I’ll be 72 in two weeks’ time. I don’t ride much in the winter because I don’t like the cold. As soon as I can get out in three-quarters and a long-sleeved jersey, I ride. My youngest daughter lives in Greece and I have a bike out there.”
Is 2012 the year that cycling becomes truly mainstream in the UK?
“It’s very difficult to become mainstream. The British public are very set in their ways. They like horse racing, golf, football, and cricket. It should be mainstream, and it is becoming so – there are more high-profile riders – but I said many, many years ago that it won’t be a household spectacle until we get a winner. We now have a winner – Cavendish. I was one man on my own. When I was doing well, there was no Eurosport.”
Can Mark Cavendish win the Olympic road race?
“Mark Cavendish can win any race in the world as long as they get him to within a few hundred yards of the finish. He’s got a strong chance of beating anyone in the world.”
What bridges does cycling still have to cross in 2012?
“The government has to do more to make it safer to cycle on the road. They have an excuse with the cycle path, but they are never enforced. The government has got to pull its finger out and start enforcing cycle paths.”
What is your advice to anyone bitten by the cycling bug in 2012?
“Buy the best bike you can, the best gear you can, and just enjoy yourself. It’s the greatest.”