My colleague @edwardpickering once said we were in for 5 years of Cancellara winning every TT, Contador every Tour and Cav every sprint…
That’s an interesting comment posted by two of Cycle Sport and Cycling Weekly’s most knowledgeable writers. And it’s true at first glance that we could see three riders carve up the sport for themselves, removing all suspense and competition from the sport.
But before you throw away your television, let’s look at the numbers. In 2009 Cavendish took an amazing 23 wins last year. Contador took 11 wins. Cancellara won nine races, despite his spring campaign going amiss. In total that’s 43 wins.
But all told the UCI calendar has more than 1,500 days of a racing a year thanks to a hefty programme of overlapping races. Now few of you care for the 1.2 and 2.2 rated races on the list. For example the Circuit des Ardennes and the Cinturon Ciclista a Mallorca are two stage races on right now… but you probably didn’t know that.
But 43 wins is still small by the main races alone. After all, in a season that begins in January and goes onto October, there is often high level racing every day, and even big races clash. During 2009 Contador raced for 54 days in the year, Cavendish raced for 84 days, Cancellara 74 days. Contador won one in five of his races, Cavendish one in four and Cancellara less than one in nine. Now for cycling these are very impressive ratios. Indeed if you take a race like the Tour de France it is true that on some days when Contador wasn’t winning it was simply because Cavendish was doing the business.
So whilst Edward Pickering’s proposition rings true, don’t give up on watching the races. It doesn’t mean that every race is decided in advance, far from it, more often than not someone else will win. And remember, as much as we might fear the domination of some riders, we should also recognise that this is the stuff of legends. Today we lap up tales of Merckx, Anquetil or Pantani but were fans of yesterday getting bored with The Cannibal’s domination?