Cycling stars Bradley Wiggins and Robbie McEwen have joined in the angry response to an article written by celebrity chef and motoring writer James Martin in the Mail on Sunday.
In the article reviewing an electric Tesla sports car, Martin openly admits running cyclists off the road whilst driving the vehicle.
“God, I hate those cyclists. Every last herbal tea-drinking, Harriet Harman-voting one of them,” wrote Martin.
“Twenty minutes into my test drive I pulled round a leafy bend, enjoying the birdsong – and spotted those damned Spider-Man cyclists. Knowing they wouldn’t hear me coming, I stepped on the gas, waited until the split second before I overtook them, then gave them an almighty blast on the horn at the exact same time I passed them at speed.”
“The look of sheer terror as they tottered into the hedge was the best thing I’ve ever seen in my rear-view mirror. I think this could be the car for me.”
And the response from Wiggins? “James Martin TV chef. The word cock springs to mind, stick to Ready Steady T*** mate,” Wiggins wrote on his Twitter feed shortly after completing stage three of the Tour of Britain.
Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen was equally disgusted, and wrote: “Website of cyclist hater James Martin. Anyone with computer skills feel free to **** it up!”
Links to the online version of the article spread quickly through internet forums and via Twitter, where a backlash against Martin quickly developed. Someone altered Martin’s Wikipedia page and an ‘I hate James Martin’ Facebook group attracted well over 1,000 users by the end of the day.
But behind the online jibes at Martin is a serious point, taken up by national cyclists’ organisation CTC, who are actively seeking the cyclists run off the road by Martin – if, indeed, they exist. There could be grounds for a legal case.
Martin’s article offers similar sentiments to one written by Matthew Parris published in the Times in December 2007, in which the columnist wrote that cyclists were ‘smug’ and ‘deserved to be decapitated’.
The Press Complaints Commission received more complaints about Parris’s article than any other in the whole of 2007.
Parris subsequently issued an apology due to the volume of complaints made directly to the paper.
On Tuesday, the Daily Mail removed the last paragraph – referring to the horn honking incident – from the online version of Martin’s article.
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In an interview with online cycling podcast FredCast, Rachel Konrad, a spokeswoman for Tesla cars and herself a cyclist, distanced the car company from the sentiments expressed in the article.