Sunday, 2 November 2008

GB's top team sold to highest bidder

All over the world cyclists out training are shouting at their mates: “Slow down! What do you think I am – a Mancunian!”
Manchester has become to track cycling what Kenya is to distance running.
The spiritual home. The setter of standards.
The cycling world cup gave GB’s phenomenally successful Olympic team the chance to show off their skills in their home velodrome.
Next to Asda, in Manchester’s Sports City.
The medallists were competing together but they weren’t Great Britain. They were team Sky HD.
When they won – which they usually did – God Save The Queen was played.
Surely it should have been the theme from The Simpsons.
Flags and patriotism could have turned the event into a sporting Nuremburg rally.
But thankfully cycling fans don’t sing the national anthem. They must be bored with it.
And when the Germans won the 40km tag race – called, confusingly, the madison – their flag was treated with as much respect as it used to be when Uwe Rosler played for Manchester City.
The music was good. Nena’s cold war anthem 99 Red Balloons greeting that German victory.
The Skids’ The Saints are Coming, Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, The Vapours Turning Japanese, and the Speedy Gonzales music backed some of the heats in the keiran
That’s the race where a man on a little moped leads the bikes round for three laps before they fly past him and race to the finsh.
It’s exciting – but it’s contrived.
And that’s the problem with track cycling. Many races are a bit too complicated.
This was a great three-day event. Sold out with a friendly atmosphere.
But world beating athletes, pulling in new crowds, need a world championship standard tannoy to explain what’s going on. Not a bloke who sounds like he’s shouting across a field on a windy day.
UCI Cycling World Cup Classics, Manchester Velodrome, Stuart Street. Weekend ticket £35.