Going Going Bike

Sep 182014

GGB is not a political organisation, so we will leave the serious commentary on today’s referendum to those more qualified and wish Scotland well, whatever the result.  However, here at GGB Towers we firmly believe in the power of analysing global events through the medium of cycling (the older of you will recall our article explaining the fall of the Berlin Wall via tubular tire technology – what a read!).

So, here is the question – which of the “Home Nations” has given the UK the greatest cycling success? Where does the pool of talent lie in our union, and which laggards are dragging the team down towards the lower reaches of the cycling firmament?  Perhaps around Guatemala and Gabon.  Are we indeed “Better Together” or should we strike out each alone?

We thought we’d start with the road racing professionals and (having other things to do today) use Cycling Weekly’s rankings of the all time top British pro riders.  This is available here.

Great names abound the list: the recent heroes like Wiggins, Thomas and Millar and those of an older vintage: Simpson, Boardman, Yates, Sciandri and Hoban. Everyone has their favourite.


First Analysis

Pro Nat1

Dividing out the nationalities of the top 24 gives a somewhat predictable distribution: clearly there are more successful riders from England.

There would be – it is the biggest nation and (being English) I unilaterally took Chris Froome.

Well, he races for England in the Commonwealths and, frankly, it seemed like the right thing to do!



Second Analysis

Pro Nat2

Perhaps it would be fairer to account for the populations of the home nations, so we re-used the points which Cycling Weekly had awarded to each nation’s riders, but this time divided them by the population of each country.

That analysis, driven by the successes of the conveniently co-named Millars, shows Scotland to be man-for-man the strongest pro-cycling nation in the Union!  Perhaps we are not “Better Together” after all – Alex Salmond will be delighted!


Almost… Because the analysis above has discounted the efforts of one man…

The Final Analysis

Pro Nat3Whether the Isle of Man would survive as a global power outside the UK is not up for debate today (although if it were they would probably only need two polling stations), but on the basis of the above analysis, we can prove that the greatest pro-cycling territory within the UK is the Isle of Man. By a mile.

So, if today’s vote leads to a divorce between our great nations (and I hope sincerely that it doesn’t), the question that should be on everyone’s lips from a cycling perspective is: which one of us gets custody of the Isle of Man!


PS We carried out the same analysis for the nations in track cycling at all Commonwealth Games. Wales and Scotland were pretty close, but the overall result was the same: Isle of Man all the way!

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