2012 will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the best in British cycling’s history.
By the time the pros hung up their wheels in November, the nation could count a Tour de France winner and sixteen gold medalists, eight each from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, six world track champions, and two junior world road champions among its number.
Some of those who added rainbow jerseys and gold medals to their collection rolled out at Glasgow’s new Sir Chris Hoy velodrome for the second round of the UCI Track World Cup.
Double Olympic champion, Laura Trott, won gold in the women’s omnium, while, with seeming inevitability, the women’s team pursuit squad triumphed again. Significantly, in Glasgow they did so with newly-crowned world junior time trial champion, Elinor Barker, who rode with Trott and Dani King in place of Jo Rowsell.
Further indications of Great Britain’s strength in depth came in the men’s team sprint, where double Olympic team pursuit champion, Ed Clancy, switched from endurance to sprint to try out at man three in the men’s team sprint. The team, featuring Olympic team sprint champions, Phillip Hindes and Jason Kenny, finished second behind the German team. A promising start.
World Cup action of a different kind could be found in the sand of Koksijde, Belgium, where Sven Nys (Landbouwkrediet-KDL) and Katie Compton (Trek) scored further victories.
Britain’s Nikki Harris (Telenet-Fidea) finished second in the elite women’s race, her highest finish in a World Cup round, and the first of two impressive performances that month that saw her take second place behind British champion, Helen Wyman (Kona), at the prestigious Koppenbergcross.
Fans of British women’s cycling would have more to celebrate in November with the news that Team GB’s world and Olympic team pursuit champions, Dani King, Jo Rowsell and Laura Trott, had all signed for a new professional road team backed by Bradley Wiggins and led by Rochelle Gilmore. The following month, Honda and Wiggle were confirmed as the team’s major sponsors.
Further news from the professional road scene concerned Team Sky rider and Tour de France runner up, Chris Froome, whom Team Sky principal, Dave Brailsford, said would be likely to lead the squad at the Tour de France in 2013. Wiggins would later announce his own intentions to defend the maillot jaune.
Developments on the domestic scene included new signings for Team IG-Sigma Sport and Raleigh, and the confirmation that Endura had joined forces with NetApp and would compete as a German-registered Pro Continental team in 2013.
We caught up with Roger Hammond, the manager of the Madison-Genesis team set to make its debut next year. Hammond, who spent seven years riding in cycling’s elite WorldTour, shared strong views on the migration of those who had doped as riders to management, and expressed hopes for his new team of young talents and established stars.
Evidence that cycling still struggles to escape its past came later in the month with Michele Scarponi’s suspension from Lampre-ISD. Scarponi would later be handed a three-month ban and a fine of 10,000 Euros from CONI, the Italian Olympic committee, after admitting to seeking the advice of the notorious Dr Michele Ferrari, banned from cycling for life in July as part of the USADA investigation into organised doping at US Postal.
The UCI set up an independent commission chaired by former appeal court judge, Sir Phillip Otton, and including 11-time Paralympic gold medalist, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, with 11 points of enquiry following damaging evidence in the USADA report.
Happier news was to be found in the confirmation that the Spanish city of Ponferrada had been able to meet its financial commitment to the UCI and host the 2014 world road race championships.
With many riders looking ahead to next year and pre-season training camps, we turned our attention to the increasing number of travel options available to the cyclist.
We reported on a host of different cycling breaks, from the classic trip to the French Alps, to a cycling ‘staycation’ in the Cotswolds, and all points in between: a sportive training camp in Mallorca, spectating trips to the Grand Tours and the Classics, and riding with the professionals.
Some of the exotic machinery to pass through the gates of RCUK Towers included the Enigma Excel and the Avanti Corsa DR4000. We also took an exclusive first spin on the Tacx Klim: £5,000 of rolling road, indoor trainer, still at the prototype stage but available to us courtesy of our friends at Cadence Sport.