Last September, 2019, the World Championship Road Race took place in Yorkshire. You might remember it? If you were there, you may have clothing on your radiator that has very nearly dried out.
To say it rained would be like saying Dominic Cummings is problematic; if rain could mastermind the collective nervous breakdown of an entire nation, that was it.
Had Noah turned up in Harrogate with his fancy boat and onboard petting zoo, hawking for a spot of business in a fanzone packed with bored kids dragged for a day at the bike race, he’d have been swept away before you could say Betty’s Tea Room.
Biblical Shmiblical; this was Northern England rain.
Noah wouldn’t have lasted five minutes up ‘ere.Embed from Getty Images
Perhaps unsurprisingly it was a big northern European, raised in cold, wet climes, who won the thing. Denmark’s Mads Pederson shivered atop the podium in that Rainbow Jersey knowing that his six hours of inhumane suffering were not in vain.
Earning, in true cycling style, not a massive cheque with lots of noughts on it, but a colourful t-shirt. In a sport full of murky corners the concept of winning and wearing the Rainbow Jersey for the ‘honour’ of it retains its charm.
It’s a lovely little punchline.
But they say the jersey is cursed.
That those who wear the stripes are neutered somewhat by the burden of it. It is said that the will and desire to win, that final half a percent that gets you over the line first, is snuffed out by the prestige, the fawning adulation, and the interminable obligation to media and sponsors.
Not half as much as a global pandemic, it turns out.Embed from Getty Images
The fact that Mads Pederson is unable to ride bike races decked out as World Champion is, of course, mind bogglingly inconsequential in the context of a global health crisis. It’s a shame for the lad though.
On that day, with that weather, there can’t be many Rainbow Jerseys that have been quite so earned as that one.
But thinking ahead there’s the very real chance that the World Champs of 2020 will never happen? Which surely means that our man Pederson gets to keep his t-shirt for another year?
Which, technically, would make him a double World Champion?
After braving those conditions last September, that his win should count double seems about right.
(Top Image: By filip bossuyt from Kortrijk, Belgium – 176 pedersen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60717269)