Matt Holmes comes from Wigan, in the north of England. Just down the way from road|THEORY HQ. After several seasons at Continental level with Madison Genesis he’s landed a massive promotion to Belgian uber-team Lotto Soudal for 2020. Due to debut at the Tour Down Under in support of home favourite Caleb Ewan, no less.
And so, as a fellow northerner, it’s reassuring to hear him sum this up in suitably low-key terms: “Being on Lotto Soudal will be much like any other team – you’ll just move a bit faster.”
I wonder, though, whether the bosses at Lotto are aware of the substances that propel young Holmes as he takes a tilt at the World Tour. Substances that don’t show up on any of the standard tests. That produce no blip on a biological passport.
Were any frank admissions offered pre-contract?
Does he have good lawyers?
We’re talking shortcrust, hot-water crust, and puff pastry. Full to bursting with cheap meat and over-seasoned filler. Slathered with peas, maybe gravy, and eaten from a plastic tray morning, noon, and night.
Holmes can talk all he likes about sacrifice and dedication; the man is from Wigan, and people from Wigan eat pies. Exclusively. Without exception. Every meal.
Go out for a beer in Wigan and on your way home you’ll be invited to partake in a Wigan kebab. It will strongly resemble a pie inside a bap. A pie sandwich, if you will. This is not considered eccentric in any way.
No pies left in this van overnight say the bumper stickers on the white vans of Wigan. This is not a joke. This means no, don’t break into my van, the thing that brings meaning into your life is not in here. Try Greggs.
The town plays host to pie-eating competitions; turning the eating of pies into an athletic endeavour.
There will undoubtedly have been a sliding doors moment in young Matt’s life when, sporting potential duly noted, the glory of competitive pie-eating was opened up to him.
Peeled back like the lid of a fresh meat and potato to display a future of groaning belt-buckles and hero status. Legends of the pie-eating scene, in his ear, plotting out a pie-centric future for the young prodigy. The world (or at least a medium sized metropolitan borough within it) his oyster (or maybe family-sized chicken and leek lattice top).
Somehow, even with that glistening promise on the horizon, pie-eating’s loss became pro cycling’s gain.
Some, in Wigan, will never forgive him.
(Top Image: via Marc on Flickr CC)