2012 is a year that will live long in the memory of British cycling fans.
The control with which Team Sky and Team GB dominated the Tour de France and London Olympic Games gave their triumphs the appearance of inevitability.
February provided the first indication that we might be in for something special.
The UCI Track World Cup circus rolled into town, pitching up in Stratford at London’s new velodrome for the Olympic test event. We headed out to E16 to sample the atmosphere inside the magnificent structure and weren’t disappointed by the quality of the action inside.
A series of press briefings by British Cycling had been designed to lower expectation, but their statements on the track were in direct contrast. Vicky Pendleton and Jess Varnish set out Team GB’s stall, winning the women’s team sprint with a world record time; a feat matched by the women’s team pursuit squad of Dani King, Laura Trott and Jo Rowsell, giving notice of their intentions for August.
The men’s team pursuit squad had to be content with silver in the first of three finals this year in which they faced an Australian quartet, while the men’s team sprint squad, racing with a line up of Ross Edgar, Kenny, and Hoy, finished third, leaving Brailsford and Sutton to continue their search for a ‘man one’ to replace the retired Jamie Staff.
Hoy and Rowsell tasted individual success in the men’s keirin and women’s individual pursuit respectively.
On the road, Mark Cavendish ended his first month of competitive action with Team Sky with three more victories on a crowded palmares. Racing in the rainbow jersey of world road race champion, Cavendish scored two victories in the Middle East at the Tour of Qatar, before a first victory of the season on European soil in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.
Bradley Wiggins started his season by finishing third overall at the Volta ao Algarve, with victory in the stage five time trial by the narrowest of margins from world champion, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Overall victory went to Wiggins’ teammate, Richie Porte, in an early display of the stage race dominance that would become Team Sky’s calling card in 2012.
Team Sky wasn’t the only British road team to enjoy a successful 2012. Endura Racing got off to a superb start to what would turn out to be a season of success with victory for Jon Tiernan-Locke at both the Tour of the Mediterranean and Haut Var.
Back home, the Core Bike Show offered us the opportunity to get up close and personal with De Rosa’s Protos, £12,000 of box section carbon tubes and Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset.