The early Bee Gees were – to my child self – comical, with their goofy looks and emotional ballad style. I recall a briefly popular playground parody which turned ‘Massachusetts‘ into ‘massive chew sets’.
In December 2009 Mark Cavendish had some new teeth fitted, then resumed training earlier than his medical advisors wanted. His gums became infected, he fell ill and his early season schedule was delayed. The episode led to harsh speculation that he was more interested in stardom than winning bike races.
The publicity following Robin Gibb’s death made me wonder about Celtic teeth, and whether Cavendish – in trying to look more ‘Monaco’ – had succeeded in looking less Manx.
Usually the more you find out about people the more interesting they become, celebrations of his life reminded us Robin was a co-writer of this great song.
Great songs from unlikely sources include this from…
One of the unwritten rules of bike racing is there must be blood.
Yesterday’s unfortunate abandonment – broken tibia – by Kanstantsin Siutsou from Belarus will tell us something new about the Manx lad with little legs and explosive acceleration. In the aftermath of the stage David Brailsford described TeamSky rider Siutsou as “versatile” by which we may understand he does what he’s told.
Bicycle road racing is – like life – a team endeavour with individual winners. Any worthwhile achievement is the result of collective action but very often one person gets all the credit. Road racing produces recurring narratives of loyalty, honour, trust and betrayal.
As a team with a strong G.C. favourite – in Bradley Wiggins from Maida Vale – was it rash to include in their squad for the Tour de France both Cavendish – a super-star with his own agenda – and Austrian Bernhard Eisel who came with Cavendish from his previous team as personal domestique-deluxe?
Will Wiggins find himself short of team-mates when the shit hits the fan? Is Cavendish willing to allow his place-man Eisel to ride for Wiggins? Will Cav be willing to carry bottles and close gaps for Wiggo, fine-tuning for Box Hill in the big mountains?
Cavendish’s enthusiastic contention of interim sprints suggests he has ambitions to lead, maybe win, the points competition this year. His spectacular crash – in which Eisel also took a taste of tarmac – today in Rouen, shows the added risk of contesting bunch sprints early in the race without a full team to maintain some control at the front end.
Cavendish is also targeting the Olympic road race. An event prestigious enough to bump the Dunwich Dynamo up the calendar. Cavendish and Wiggins have history, winning the Madison World Championship as the perfect sprinter/stayer combination then flopping at the same event when heavily marked at the Beijing Olympics.
In last year’s World Championship Road Race Wiggins dominated the elite field in the closing stages to set up Cavendish’s biggest win so far. Wiggins’ awesome display of sustained power and control in that event might easily end up being the greatest performance of his life. It would be interesting to know what agreement has been struck between the two for the next month’s busy programme.
The compelling uncertainty of sport means nobody knows whether Team Sky/GB are spreading their resources too thin, whether the experiment will end with domination, Yellow Jersey, Green Jersey and Gold Medals all round, or in embarrassing fiasco?
When Bjarne Riis toppled Miguel Indurain in 1996 they say the factories, shops and offices of Denmark were deserted in the afternoons as everyone stayed glued to live TV images of the bald Eagle becoming the first Dane to win Le Grand Boucle.
If Wiggins wins the Tour the achievement will raise the profile of cycle-sport in Britain to new heights. If Cavendish emulates the World’s greatest living Welsh person and takes Gold on the first weekend of the Olympic Games his global profile will get even bigger.
Super-champions don’t just win they are also noble. Win or lose, how these two handle the pressure, and conduct their relationship will tell us something more about their characters and begin to define their enduring reputations.
Bring it on.