WorldTour Wrap: All hail Pony Gallopin
Ponies in the peloton and amateurs on the deck... just another week in cycling
There wasn’t much racing going on in the WorldTour this week, with just the Tour of Poland – or ‘Tour de Pologne’, to give it its properly Frenchified name – to keep us occupied.
The reason for the dearth of racing is that, after the Tour a couple of weeks ago, most teams will be focusing on the forthcoming, final Grand Tour of the season, the Vuelta a España.
Those who did well at the Grand Boucle will be using this time to recover and eat tiramisu, while those who underperformed are off at a South African altitude camp somewhere being shouted at by their DS and trying to panic-train their way into some form.
As a result, rosters at Poland were a little depleted. That being said, there were a few big names on the start line, including a smattering of top stars whose Tour de France was abruptly curtailed.
While Rafal Majka almost battled to a home victory in the GC, his Bora buddy and fellow extractor fan enthusiast, Peter Sagan, nabbed a few days in the leader’s jersey off the back of his stage one victory and a judicious approach to hoovering up bonus seconds.
However, the real breakout star of the Tour de Pologne was a young racer who defied the odds to do something nobody has ever done.
All hail, Pony Gallopin
If you do not know who Pony Gallopin is, I suggest you watch this video immediately. Then we can talk.
— CyclingHub (@CyclingHubTV) August 3, 2017
Yes, that tiny horse is running alongside the riders. Yes, it’s having a sweet time. Yes, this is the definition of YOLO.
We should say here that we are not the geniuses who came up with the nickname, ‘Pony Gallopin’. If we had tried to name the horse, we like to think we’d have come up with “PG" eventually, however, we also came up with some not-quite-as-good, pro cyclist-inspired epithets - Whinny Anacona, anyone? Olivier Neigh-sen? Daniel Hoss? Tiesj Benhoof, maybe? We tried.
We love everything about Pony Gallopin. We love the way his mane flows in the wind like Peter Sagan’s used to. We love his ‘never hay die’ attitude as he gamely battles to stay in contact despite getting dropped. We especially love the moment he nearly overcooks it on the left-hander bend before scrambling to correct his line – after all, which novice cat 4 crit racer can’t sympathise with that particular ‘oh shit, oh shit, oh shit’ moment?
What does Pony Gallopin tell us about cycling? He tells us that cycling is still a bit crap, but in a glorious way. He tells us that our races still pass through rural communities, where tiny horses can get loose and join in the fun. He tells us we still have a good few years yet before cycling is a segregated ‘pay to attend’ spectacle, because, if they can't keep random farmyard animals out of the actual race, how will they ever keep a determined man with a cooler full of beers and a folding stool from sitting at the side of the road and yelling ‘encouragement’?
More important than the lessons about cycling, though, is what Pony Gallopin tells us about ourselves. Pony Gallopin tells us to never stop trying, to believe in our dreams. If a four-legged beast can make it to the pros, then maybe one day you and I can too.
Sadly, Pony Gallopin did not make it over the line inside the timecut and was promptly disqualified.
— Team Rwanda Europe (@TeamRwandaUK) August 3, 2017
Pony Gallopin is all of us and we are all Pony Gallopin.
While everything about Pony Gallopin says ‘win’, everything about this next gif says, ‘fail’.
While technically this footage is from the RideLondon sportive, we felt that because the course was later ridden by the WorldTour we could legitimately squeeze it in. Also, it’s probably the second-greatest thing we’ve ever seen and there was no way we were not going to write about it.
Caught by the BBC as part of their Facebook Live of the finish line, we clearly see one of the greatest cases of lost concentration since the UK accidentally voted itself out of Europe. This, finally, is a justification for Facebook Live, a function that hitherto seemed limited to use by people you knew at school to broadcast between 30 to 40 seconds of them and their mates drunk in a nightclub at 1am.
Am I busy today? Sure. 'Busy' watching this gif over and over again. pic.twitter.com/LV5jPoCXHn
— tom owen (@owentcharles) August 2, 2017
Let’s look at the gif in more detail.
The scene opens with a steady flow of cyclists, jubilantly heading towards the finish line of the Ride London-Surrey 100. Watch them as their faces light up. The end is in sight. They have achieved something. Most importantly, observe how none of them falls off their bike.
And then our protagonist hoves into view.
First, the visible moment where the rider considers how to celebrate crossing the line. Then, the moment of doubt, as he remembers it’s a sportive, not the finishing arch of a Tour de France stage.
‘Sod it,’ he thinks. ‘I’ve just ridden a hundred miles, I’m celebrating’. He probably envisioned something like this...
He starts to take his weary hands off the bars, but he lifts his left hand a fraction too early. To over compensate, he puts it back down, but the right hand is no longer on the bars. The bike instantly spins out, disappearing out from under him as if it has turned to mist. The last thought that goes through his head is, ‘I really hope nobody gets this on video’.
He hits the iconic red tarmac of the Mall with both hands by his sides. Faceplanting into the ground, hard. Look closely and you can see his sunglasses skitter away from him as he reaches his hand up, a visible metaphor for his escaping dignity.
The important thing to remember is this could happen to any of us. We all fall off our bikes at embarrassing junctures. There is no shame in it. It’s just that this time, it happened to be live streamed to the entire world by the world’s largest, oldest, most-respected broadcasting organisation.
RideLondon guy is all of us and we are all RideLondon guy.