British cycling was the envy of the rest of the world through the 2010s as competitors from Great Britain dominated the Olympics, World Championships, European Championships, Commonwealth Games and of course the Tour de France.
After failing to make an impact at the prestigious event in its previous 98 iterations, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. His success sparked an era of dominance for Britain as Chris Froome won the yellow jersey four times between 2013 and 2017 before Geraint Thomas followed suit in 2018.
However, the rest of the world has now made significant strides in British dominance across all disciplines of the sport. Thomas was the highest placed Brit at the 2022 Tour de France placing in a respectable third, but he was off the pace of the winner Jonas Vingegaard, who is backed at 4/5 in the cycling betting odds to win the 2023 Tour de France, aiming to join an elite company of men to win successive titles. Thomas is the highest ranked Brit in the odds at 25/1, highlighting a potential issue with the next generation of male cyclists.
It is not only in the Tour de France where there could be issues. Whereas in the 2012 Olympics Britain was utterly dominant in the velodrome and on the track/road, scooping up an incredible haul of 12 gold medals along with two silvers and bronze medals apiece. The rest of the world has slowly eradicated Team GB’s imperious hold, reducing the overly tally to six golds in Rio de Janeiro and six in Tokyo, although the overall tally was reduced drastically at the last Olympics.
Australia and New Zealand along with Netherlands have been longstanding rivals of Britain in cycling, and their recovery was evident in the 2022 Commonwealth Games, sitting in first and second in the medal table. England and Scotland combined for only three gold medals, one of which was a welcome surprise from Laura Kenny, who defied personal problems and a lack of time on the track to win the scratch race.
In the 2021 World Cycling Championships, Great Britain were also well behind the pace of Germany, Italy and Netherlands, placing fifth in the medal table. It was a similar story at the 2022 UCI Track Cycling Nations Cup, where there was the odd spot of brilliance such as Oliver Wood’s triumph in the Omnium, but the team was not firing on all cylinders.
In sport there will always be peaks and troughs where countries produce elite talent, and although there are promising individuals emerging through the ranks, they’re not quite the dominant cyclists of old. Wiggins, Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny were all outstanding at the top of their field and ensured that Britain took a stranglehold of the men’s sport, while Victoria Pendleton and Laura Kenny did the same for the women’s side of the sport. Team GB may have to have a hard look at their methods over the next two to four years if they are to remain the powerhouse of cycling both at the Olympics, World Championships and Tour de France.