It used to be that cycling heroes were a part of continental lore. They had the superstars. Over the past years, the UK have slowly, steadily, developed their own heroes. Far from being unknown by all, save their own family, they are now gate attractions, that extra motivation to attend. A chance to glimpse, and listen to, one of the UK greats.
The UK has cycling statesmen, riders who have left the elite competitive circle and turned their hands to business, coaching, sport. And they have become icons in the sport, known in households and admired for their parade of successes.
The London Bike Show brought Chris Boardman and Sir Chris Hoy, two of the best known UK ambassadors, to regale the audience with their histories, their insights. But they were also here as elite businessmen, promoting their bikes, creating the brand, the image and demand. And there is no shortage of admirers, those who want a moments of conversation, a chance for a selfie and an autograph to bring back from the show.
The UK is in a wonderful position, today, if they are wondering how the lines will fill with more icons in the future. Still racing, still at the elite level, the UK is enjoying the exploits of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. Mark Cavendish is still unleashing a monumental sprint. And then the mass of top flight UK domestiques who have become recognised for their sacrifice, as UK audiences become more knowledgeable about the sport, especially the Grand Tours, and its intricacies.
And women’s cycling has Rachel Atherton, who was a last minute speaker at the London Bike Show with Martyn Ashton, the UK mountain bike rider and mens world champion who was paralysed in a bike accident in 2013. And then Nicole Cook who was Commonwealth, Olympic and World Cycling champion before she retired. Then there are the still active track superstars Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott, with a mass of others, male and female, just on the verge. And, not to forget, Evie Richards who won the inaugural under-23 World Cyclocross Championships this year.
It would seem the London Bike Show will have plenty of talent to draw from.