NEIL WILSON peddles the merits of the latest cycling book from SJA member Richard Moore
Those SJA members going to Beijing with only a passing knowledge of cycling and Britain’s paramount place in its world will be in trouble. The cycling team is likely to underline the growing suspicion that the British are best at Olympic sports when sitting on their bottoms.
Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins, Victoria Pendleton, Shanaze Reade and Rebecca Romero could well be the stars of the Beijing Games for the British, and it will be as well to be fore-armed. Fortunately, an SJA member has come to our collective aid.
For the modest outlay of Â£15.99, there is a comprehensive guide available to everything you need to know about cycling authored by Richard Moore, a freelance who contributes to The Scotsman, Scotland on Sunday, The Herald, Guardian and Sunday Times. Not only is he an authority but a former rider, a member of Scotland’s Commonwealth Games team in 1998.
His subject is Hoy, Scottish hero of Athens, but the man himself is only the half of it. Heroes, Villains and Velodromes (HarperSport) reveals the man but far more. By shadowing Hoy through a season with the British
track team, it introduces his teammates, the pivotal characters behind the scenes and the reasons behind the transformation of a sport on its uppers a decade ago.
Moore started out with the aim of doing a year in the life of his fellow Scot, following him to world track championships and his attempt on the world kilo record in La Paz while back-tracking into his past to discover the mountain biking roots and, more intriguingly, his successes in rugby and rowing.
But the British track team’s successes along the way widened the subject, and he is invited into the dark corridors beneath the velodrome in Manchester to see the secrets that lie behind it and speak with those who guard them.
Moore’s critically acclaimed book In Search of Robert Millar revealed him to be an investigative journalist of the highest order, and he has brought the same powers of research to the world within the velodrome.
Nothing is missing, from the doping to the cutting edge technology and the bizarre contribution of a clinical psychiatrist whose previous clients include the Soham murderer Ian Huntley.
British cycling is not a closed world to the journalist but one of the more welcoming sports. When I was thrown into Hoy’s world for the first time 18 months ago as the British took the world championships in Majorca by storm, performance director David Brailsford and his team could not have been more helpful.
It will be so again in Beijing, but if you want to know something of what he is talking and its context, Moore’s contribution to the cause will be as welcome there as a cabbie who can speak English.
Heroes, Villains and Velodromes – Chris Hoy and Britain’s Track Cycling Revolution by Richard Moore (HarperSport), Â£15.99, can be ordered via Amazon for just Â£7.99 by clicking here
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