OK so England didn’t do so well in the football and Andy Murray couldn’t quite pull off his challenge against Federer, but behind the scenes what could be the greatest sporting victory for the English since 1966 is quietly taking place.
Cycling enthusiasts will know what I am talking about of course, others perhaps not.
Never in the history of the Tour de France has an Englishman even been placed in the first three of the Tour de France, let alone come first – but this year it is becoming a possibility.
Now I’m probably prejudiced but would say that the Tour de France is the toughest mainstream sporting event in the world, and winning it is an achievement of monumental proportions. Winning the Tour without drug induced assistance even more so – and I think we can be confident that Bradley Wiggins is ‘drug free’.
To people who suggested he was cheating he said “I say they’re just f*****g w*****s. I cannot be doing with people like that. It justifies their own bone-idleness because they can’t ever imagine applying themselves to do anything in their lives.”
A pretty emphatic denial then, although cynics might say that emphatic denials come from the guilty (eg Floyd Landis) as often as the inncocent. Anyway I’m convinced and that’s what counts for me.
Of course, whether he has accidentally eaten a beef sandwich containing microscopic traces of a banned substance is harder to predict – and that is why Contador is absent with a two year ban this year (unfairly IMO), which certainly won’t be hurting Bradley’s chances of victory.
It’s all still to play for with almost two weeks still to go but if Bradley can still be ahead at the end of tomorrow’s (12th July) stage with its finish on a mountain summit, there is a good chance that he can win overall. (This isn’t certain, he looked a bit shaky at the end of the last mountain finish when he was outrun by his team mate Chris Froome.)
Anyway even if you have no interest in cycling, if you thought that Wimbledon was nail-biting take a look at the Tour de France over the next couple of days and you’ll be gripped…
…and if you think the professionals like Bradley make it look easy, dust off your old bike and go find a mountain to ride up. It will take about 30 seconds to realise how hard it is and about 30 seconds more before you want to give up!
PS If Bradley can’t win or you want to support someone French they also have one of their most promising cyclists in a long time, Sylvain Chavanel, who is doing a great job so far.