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For well over a year now there's been a mounting sense of anticipation in our household. Ever since the boys found out that the 2014 Tour de France was going to go past their cousin's school (half way up Cragg Vale, the longest continuous incline in England), the build up has been in progress.
My 5 year old hasn't developed much sense of timescales yet, and regularly he'll ask "Is it the Tour de France this weekend?" The answer has ranged from "It's not until next year", through to now, at long last "next month".
There's no doubt that one man has been a key part of this excitement. Every time we visit my sister and see cyclists struggling up Cragg Vale he shouts out "I've seen Bradley Wiggins".
Both boys adore Wiggo - they've been brought up with him as the major hero in British cycling. They were 3 and 6 when he became the first ever Briton to win the Tour de France, and followed it up swiftly afterwards with an Olympic gold.
So, how do you tell a young boy that their hero is more than likely not going to be taking part in the Tour de France? And what would their reaction be? I was silently cursing Dave Brailsford - surely he could have snuck their hero in, despite the personality clashes, and the fact Froome and Wiggins haven't raced together all year? Doesn't he know Bradley Wiggins is a national favourite and it just won't be the same without him?
8 year old N was out when the news broke, so I was able to see their individual reactions. 5 year old T looked shell shocked for a second, then did a bit of mock crying before sulking away to think about it. A few minutes later and his reaction was interesting. "I'm not bothered as long as Chris Froome wins" he said nonchalantly (no pressure Chris!)
But, despite the bravado I could tell he was still disappointed and wanted to talk about it. I asked him who his favourite cyclist was, and his response was instant - "Daddy". I was surprised at first, but now thinking back on it, what better response from a boy with a huge number of medalists to choose from to pick the person who cycles him to and from school each day. Wouldn't it be great if all kids were able to say that?
We persisted with who his favourite professional cyclist was, and the responses came thick and fast - Wiggo, Froome, Liam Phillips, Laura Trott, Mark Cavendish were the first to trip off his tongue. Plus the admission that "Daddy would probably come last in the Tour de France wouldn't he?"
When 8 year old N got home and I broke the news he didn't so much as raise an eyebrow. "That's fine - it doesn't matter so long as Chris Froome is the lead rider instead". Gosh - I wasn't expecting that.
So, who's the most disappointed in our house? It's probably Chris and myself, who realise that this is the shift in generations - Wiggins for us represents so much, and it's difficult to see the old guard being pushed out by the up and coming youngsters.
As for our boys, they're part of the new generation. For them, cycling has always been a mainstream sport in which Brits excel, and they can happily interchange one rider for another. For that, Sir Brailsford, I thank you!
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