I’ve been following cycling since I was plonked in front of the Channel 4 programme back in 1997, the year that Jan Ulrich won his Tour. The following year I followed the whole thing and saw Marco Pantani zoom off and win.
This list is those that have captured my attention and been the stuff of dreams ever since!
2 – Chris Boardman
Growing up, this guy was pretty much everything. For one beautiful day at the beginning of the Tour de France you would actually see a British cyclist winning a race (Max Sciandri doesn’t count…and he didn’t win anyway). This was light years from the current situation where there’s about 20 guys of a decent standard now racing.
Chris Boardman used to rock up to the Tour de France, win the Prologue, parade in the Yellow Jersey for a couple of days and then lose it to sprinter time bonuses or a very close encounter with an Irish stone wall. We knew the background, about Barcelona 1992, the Lotus bike but here he was on the greatest stage of all. No matter that he disappeared into the bunch and anonymity the rest of the race, for one brief shining moment, he was the best. It’s probably worth noting, given the era that he raced in, I firmly believe that he rode clean which in itself was a severe handicap. It would explain why he was a clear one trick pony with just the time trials, we never saw Cancellara-esque bursts for instance.
A world champion several times over, Boardman was the sole focus of British fans in this era and certainly captured my attention at the time. His current pundit work on the Tour de France for ITV4 has kept him in the minds of a new generation as well as his work for Team GB and their gold medal hauls at the Olympics.