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Can mountain biking save cycling’s reputation?

| Blog, Mountain Biking Uk | 31/01/2013 11:13am

Get downhillers on the telly, says guest blogger Paddy Taylor

Unless you have been living in an igloo for the last month, you will have heard the not-so-shocking news that Lance Armstrong was doping during his seven Tour de France wins.  This seems to have tarnished the way people view cycling, from both within and out of the sport. For me, occurrences like this in road cycling, solidify how good a sport mountain biking is.

OK, so mountain biking as a competitive sport isn’t perfect, with a few people in cross-country having used EPO (which increases number of red blood cells) and a downhill rider who seemed to have tested positive for something more recreational than performance-enhancing.

Much of the general public is unaware of downhill as discipline though, and many only know about cross-country because of the Olympics. I believe that mountain biking should be broadcast on mainstream television to shed a positive light on cycling.

Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy, Laura Trott OBE and Victoria Pendleton CBE are all household names, which shows that cycling is well received in the UK and is on an all-time high.

But how about adding Steve Peat and Gee Atherton to that list? Two people who got to the podium not through drugs but through hard work and simply loving riding their bikes. It’s no secret that Steve Peat likes a tipple but he and Gee are honest people who enjoy what they do and not only focus on their own careers but spend time to nurture future talent too.

Ski Sunday is on the BBC in the winter and features downhill racing of the snow variety and is definitely entertaining. So I am sure a Mountain Bike Sunday in the summer would be well received! I believe there is an audience. Licensing for coverage must surely be relatively cheap compared to, say, F1. This would encourage investment in to mountain biking from major companies through sponsorship similar to what it had in the early 2000s.

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