Cycling Weekly’s ever-popular ‘Icons of Cycling’ feature often takes us back to yesteryear to reminisce about riders, races, kit and technology that may have fallen by the wayside in the modern era.
For younger cycling fans these trips down memory lane play an invaluable part in our education of cycling history, but this doesn’t mean that more modern cycling hasn’t created a few icons.
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We’ve put our heads together to think of some modern icons of cycling. Let us know in the comments if there are any you think we’ve missed and we’ll keep adding things to create a definitive list.
Thomas Voeckler’s tongue
If you’ve watched the Tour de France over the last 10 years it’s almost certain you’ll have seen Thomas Voeckler off the front of the peloton trying to get a breakaway victory.
The Frenchman, who wore the yellow jersey for 10 days in 2011, loves a long attack to shake the peloton into action, and when he puts his foot down his tongue starts wagging.
Pinarello Dogma F8
There are a lot of good looking bikes on the market these days, but the Pinarello Dogma F8 seems to have grown a persona of its own in recent years.
Since being used by Team Sky the Dogma become probably the most sought-after bike in the British Isles and when one arrives in the Cycling Weekly office the tech writers all look like Tommy Voeckler (above).
For one summer in 2012, mutton chops were in vogue thanks to Sir Bradley Wiggins. Granted, Wiggo’s muttons weren’t as glorious as those you’d see on Edwardian gentlemen of yore, but at the height of Wiggo-mania Bradley’s face fuzz was the talk of the nation.
And it wasn’t just the British nation that were in a tizz about Wiggo’s sideburns, the French were equally taken by them, with visitors and natives alike sporting stuck-on replicas along the side of the road as Sir Bradley took a historic Tour de France title.
The sideburns were later replaced by a full beard, but that was given the chop for Wiggins’s Hour Record attempt in 2015 and in the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Games Wiggo is unshaven.
David Beckham used to create headline news when he got a new haircut, and Wiggins is almost the same with his facial hair styles.
Contador’s ‘dancing’ out of the saddle
Take Alberto Contador out of team kit, put a mask over his face and ask him to ride out of the saddle up a mountain and any cycling fan will be able to pick out his inimitable style.
There’s something quite glorious about the way the Spaniard dances on the pedals, making the ascents of Europe’s most challenging climbs look like child’s play.
There’s a lot more bounce in Contador’s rhythm than in many of his rivals’, it’s like watching him do an Argentine tango on a Specialized.
The cobbled roads of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders have been in races for over 100 years, but in the last 10 years we have seen the birth of a one-day race over the white roads of Tuscany – Strade Bianche.
Every year the challenging Italian race welcomes a stellar line-up, despite not being a WorldTour race, with the list of winners since its inception in 2007 including Fabian Cancellara (three times), Philippe Gilbert and Michal Kwiatkowski.
While it may not be as physically demanding as riding over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix, the 32km of white gravel roads in the 176km route provide plenty of challenges. Throw in the rolling countryside and you’ve got one of the toughest races, and one of the most beautiful, on the calendar.
Perhaps one of the most iconic features of the fledgeling race, apart from the gravel roads, is the incredibly steep climb in the final kilometre, which in 2016 saw the undoing of Gianluca Brambilla, allowing Cancellara to claim his third win.
The HTC sprint train
Providing a team of helpers for your sprinter is hardly a new phenomenon, but the way HTC worked together in the late 2000s and early 2010s was pretty awe inspiring.
At many races, HTC went all-in on their sprinter, which was usually Mark Cavendish. At the 2010 Tour de France, for example, the sprint train was bulging at the seams.
When it came to the business end of the sprint stage it wouldn’t be uncommon to see all nine riders from the HTC team in a long line at the head of the peloton, with riders periodically peeling off from the front after burying themselves to up the pace.
And it worked phenomenally well, with Cavendish winning 20 Tour de France stages with the HTC team in just four editions of the famous race.
The HTC sprint train is often copied, but never equalled.
Peter Sagan has become such a cult figure in the world of cycling that he has achieved icon status in his own right.
Rarely does a sportsman captivate the fans as much as Sagan. Zinedine Zidane had all the skills you could ask of a footballer, but didn’t have the personality to match Sagan’s. Shane Warne took the world of cricket by storm when he came on the scene, but there was always something unlikeable about him unless you were Australian.
But you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like watching Sagan. He rarely takes himself or his sport too seriously, often pulling stunts that show off his remarkable bike handling and his ice cool temperament.
If cycling had a Hall of Fame, Sagan would be pushing for a place in it already.
Froome’s bendy elbows
Similar to Contador, Chris Froome has his very unique style of climbing mountains, but Froomey’s has landed him a bit of stick in recent years.
Froome’s default position in the mountains is ‘elbows out and stare at the stem’. With his thin arms, his knobbly elbows are very recognisable when they’re extended in such position and his head position often makes it look like he’s struggling.
He takes the jokes about it with good humour, though, given that he’s asked in many interviews about the style. It definitely works for him, so why change for the sake of change?
Smiling is a pretty rare commodity in sport these days, especially in a sport as demanding as professional cycling. Some riders can win a stage of a Grand Tour and stand on the podium stony faced.
Not Esteban Chaves, though. The little Colombian is always beaming from ear to ear when he’s off his bike. Even in interviews he’s got a grin on his face when his fellow pros often look as uninterested as possible.
He’s got a lot to smile about too. A few years ago he was told he would never race again following a shoulder injury, but Chaves refused to give up, found a doctor who could fix him up and went on to finish second in the Giro d’Italia in 2016.
Riders love customised shoes these days. The year he retired, David Millar had a different pair of kicks for every race and then auditioned them off. Others, like Wiggins and Elia Viviani are wearing personalised footwear for the fun of it.
Adam Hansen even makes his own shoes when he’s not riding every Grand Tour under the sun. Footwear is important these days – no longer is it black shoes for everyone. Your shoes are now an opportunity to express your personality.