Friday July10, 2.40pm:
An email arrives in my inbox from Ned Boulting. “Along with e-Racing – Everesting needs to be recorded, I think. It’s become a thing.”
We should have been deep into the second week of the Tour de France, but instead everyone was nervously waiting for the season to restart in the next few weeks. We’d only had around 40 races so far after the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to pretty much everything, including cycling. We were now starting to think outside the box for how best to fill a book that’s supposed to be brimming with bike races.
E-racing and Everesting existed before the pandemic, but they came to the fore when proper bike racing was momentarily taken away from us. Watching the likes of Greg Van Avermaet sweating it out in his pain cave, hearing news filter through of first amateurs and then pros completing Everestings in quicker and quicker times. It was an outlet for athletes and fans alike in a time where both were left somewhat despondent. Cycling will always be an escape for people from real-life problems, and in a time where many will have needed it most, it held firm in some form or other.
Another idea was to interview as many riders as possible during lockdown to find out how the pros were coping in these unprecedented times. In hindsight, it is unsurprising that their primary worries matched yours and mine, in that they were concerned about the health and welfare of their families and society at large. Racing was a distant second in their minds. We collated the hundreds of thousands of words from the responses and plugged them into a word cloud generator. ‘Time’ stands front and centre, the most commonly mentioned word of them all. ‘Roubaix’ sits there quietly, tucked away in a corner.
Friday July 31 – 7.41am:
“The way Evenepoel is going he may need his own infographic…”
Cycling is sparking back into life, and Remco Evenepoel is continuing from where he left off, winning the first race back, the Vuelta a Burgos. He will also win the Tour of Poland the next week to make that four stage race overall victories out of four in the 2020 season before his horrible, season-ending crash at Il Lombardia.
In the kilometres before the Belgian youngster tumbled off a bridge, he was looking good to potentially take a first Monument victory at his first attempt. He was then supposed to take part in his first Grand Tour at the Giro d’Italia, where he would have also stood a very real chance of winning.
Evenepoel is the latest upcoming Belgian star to be christened the ‘new Merckx’, often a curse that brings about a rider’s premature demise before they’ve even really got started. So how does the 20-year-old stack up to Merckx? Currently, Evenepoel is matching Merckx’s achievements at a slightly younger age, and without his crash may have made even more progress in matching up to his status as Cannibal 2.0. The difficulty, of course, will be in being as prolific over the entirety of a career.
After devising the ideas and collecting the data, the biggest task is sketching out how the infographic should look for the professional designer to knock up – a feat not dissimilar to assembling Lego with oven gloves on.
Behold, the environmental cost of the peloton expressed with the artistic skill of a fridge-freezer, salvaged for publication by our talented design team who must have been wondering what exactly they signed up for when this was emailed across.
Saturday October 24 – 7.26pm:
“I’m feeling a GT winning margins infographic…” writes Ned. Tao Geoghegan Hart and Jai Hindley have just become tied on time at the top of the Giro d’Italia’s general classification. Only fractions of a second separating them after 85 hours of racing, the first time there’s been such a slim margin heading into the final stage. Geoghegan Hart took 39 seconds out of Hindley in the final time trial, while Primož Roglič would later defend his Vuelta a España title, withstanding a final charge from Richard Carapaz to win by just 24 seconds. Along with Tadej Pogačar winning the Tour de France by 59 seconds, this totalled the shortest winning margin of all three Grand Tours this century.
Thursday October 8 – 3.12pm
“How easy would it be to publish a list of all riders who’ve tested positive for Covid-19?”
Sorry Ned, didn’t get around to this one. Let’s hope it’s not still relevant enough an idea to include in next year’s book.