As we prepare to say goodbye to 2012, cyclists in the UK can look back on 12 months of international success, a sport thrust to the centre of the nation’s consciousness, and, according to Sport England and British Cycling, massively increased participation.
The final month of 2012 brought celebrations of the achievements of our best cyclists, firstly at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards, and later in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
His on-stage banter with the BBC’s Sue Barker, and subsequent musical outings, did much to establish Wiggins in the minds of the non-cycling public.
The Tour de France champion was not the only member of the cycling community nominated for SPOTY and national honours.
Dave Brailsford, Team Principal at Team Sky and Performance Director at British Cycling, replicated Wiggins’ achievement in winning the SPOTY award for which he was nominated and selection for a knighthood.
And Sarah Storey, whose haul of four gold medals at the Paralympic Games saw her equal Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson’s career tally of 11 Paralympic golds, was made a Dame in the New Year’s Honours list.
Another Team Sky new boy, Tour of Britain winner, Jon Tiernan-Locke, opened up in an interview with RCUK about his concerns for the domestic road race scene, following the reduction in the number of Premier Calendar events.
The month began with the airing of concerns for the sport’s elite level, with the inaugural meeting of the group Change Cycling Now at the London Metropole Hotel.
Formed in response to the USADA enquiry into systematic doping at the Lance Armstrong-led US Postal team, CCN called for the immediate resignation of UCI president, Pat McQuaid, and honorary president, Hein Verbruggen, and heard three-time Tour de France winner and double world champion, Greg LeMond, confirm that he would accept an interim presidency if called upon to do so.
Further shocking revelations emerged at the 90-minute press conference, including LeMond’s statement that he had feared for his safety during his years of public opposition to Armstrong, and an admission from former rider and campaigning journalist, Paul Kimmage, whose seminal 1990 book, Rough Ride, lifted the lid on doping in the peloton, that he had considered his crusade “a waste of time” when sued for defamation by the UCI earlier this year (the governing body has since suspended its legal action and Kimmage has launched a counter-suit).
The fall out from the Armstrong scandal continued to be felt in the peloton. Michael Rogers, a three-time world time trial champion, and a key lieutenant to Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France, who has admitted to working with Dr Michele Ferrari but denied using performance enhancing drugs, left Team Sky.
The Russian Katusha team was denied a WorldTour licence, amid reported ‘ethical concerns’ from the UCI, and will take its fight for a place in cycling’s top tier to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Cycling’s long and public fight with doping and its own past looks set to continue in 2013.