Flailing elbows, jostling for position, novelty victory celebrations

Who of us hasn’t watched with a heavy heart the closing stages of a flat day in a grand tour as the plucky breakaway gets gradually reeled back in by the combined might of the sprinters’ teams? That horrible moment of the ‘catch’, with brave tired cyclists capitulating to the demands of the well-drilled bunch…

Maybe one courageous soul resists the inevitable just that bit longer, jumping away from his breakaway compatriots like a fish flipping out of the fisherman’s net… Only to be caught again a moment later.

I blame the sprinters for this unsporting cruelty. Those flashy ‘superstars’ of the peloton, who only poke their head into the headwind and the front of the race metres from the line. Those lazy spoil-sporting gits. Coasting in the slipstream of their teammates for 200km, only to bask in the glory on the finishing line.

At the amateur end of the sport, sprinters are the curse of the 3rd cats. With most courses too short and too flat to shake the flabby sprinters, bunch finishes are far too commonplace. Currently the Hillingdon Winter Series is dishing out an abundance of BC points to these guys every week. Jammy gits.

My controversial solution is to declare all bunch finishes a draw – no one gets any points, and no one is declared the winner. Just think how much more exciting that would make races – aggressive riding would be rewarded, and hiding in the bunch would get you precisely nowhere. And just think of all the crashes that would be avoided! How many collar bones saved from breaking! All the teeth staying in their owner’s mouth rather than scattered across the road! All those carbon frames saved from snapping!

It’s such a great idea I’m thinking of starting a campaign.

And it’s not just that I’m a bitter skinny grimpeur trapped in the flat landscape of south east England. Not at all.

PHOTOGRAPHY GRAHAM WATSON
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