The Danish Press did Cav proud at the World Road Championships 2011; having Peta on his arm doesn’t hurt as far as the photo opportunities go.
And being the saddo I am, the first thing I did when I got home was to buy the British papers.
The Independent gives him pride of place on their sports section and Alasdair Fotheringham’s prose is perfect.
The Guardian too gives him pride of place on their sport section cover — Richard Williams is fulsome in his praise of the Manxman; he deserves all of it.
The Times gives him two pages and lots of colour.
And The Telegraph — well, this is where the rant starts.
The Telegraph commits the unforgiveable sin of comparing Cav to Tom Simpson; ‘Simpson’s performances that year (1965, they year of his Worlds triumph) were magnificent, as he also added the Italian autumn classic, The Giro di Lombardia.
Yet they could hardly compare to Cavendish’s 2011 heroics.’
Ian Chadband then lists Cav’s triumphs — including three post Tour criteriums – but forgets to mention that Simpson also won the London-Holyhead, Criterium des As, was second in the Super Prestige Pernod (a year-long points competition to decide the most consistent rider in the world), was 3rd in the Fleche-Wallonne, 3rd in Bordeaux-Paris, 3rd in the Midi-Libere, 5th in the E3, 7th in Paris-Roubaix…
I could on and could include numerous track results, like winning the Brussels six day with Peter Post.
But Simpson’s was a different era, there was no World Class Performance Plan, no Academy, no Sky, no lottery cash, no ‘periodisation,’ no laptops, no Tweets and France may as well have been the moon when Simpson headed off with his bikes and suitcases to search for fame and fortune.
You simply cannot compare; Cav is a brilliant sprinter, set to be one of the best ever — Simpson was an attacking rider who rode anything and everything, all year.
When I stand on the Via Roma where Milan-Sanremo used to finish, or on one of the Flanders bergs, or atop the Madonna del Ghisallo at Lombardia, I always take a moment to think to myself; ‘Tom Simpson won here!’
Mark Cavendish, brilliant young sprinter with the world at his feet.
Tom Simpson, Deity — let’s not get confused.