Three out of four ain’t bad, as they say. British riders enjoyed a trio of victories at the four-stage Three Days of De Panne in Belgium this week to confirm the nation’s new standing in professional cycling.
Mark Cavendish scored two consecutive stage wins in De Panne – yesterday and this morning – followed very swiftly by Bradley Wiggins’ dominant win in the closing time trial of the Belgian stage race.
Today’s double victory must surely usher in a new golden era for British cycling, perhaps unseen since the days of Tom Simpson in the sixties.
British riders have racked up a series of solid wins in high profile races so far this year – and it’s only the beginning of April.
It’s easy to forget just how many victories – and podium positions – British riders have achieved in just over three months.
Roger Hammond gave his new Cervelo team an early victory in the Tour of Qatar, followed by Mark Cavendish bagging the first of his 2009 stage wins in the same race. Wiggins’ time trial win in Belgium this afternoon is the cherry on a large cake dripping with icing.
Let’s also not forget that Wiggins has come a close second in two other notable tests against the clock this year – in Paris-Nice and the Criterium International.
And then there was Steve Cummings and Chris Froome’s wins in the Cape Argus Giro Del Capo in South Africa in March.
There have also been strong performances from other Brits – Dan Lloyd and Ben Swift have both shown that they can mix it with the seasoned professionals.
Of course, one man above all has contributed to this astounding tally of British wins. Mark Cavendish now has no less than eight wins to his name, and has won a stage in every stage race he’s ridden in 2009.
And no British fan will ever forget Cavendish’s blistering turn of speed at the end of Milan-San Remo that literally left the rest of the field standing.
British cycling has arrived.