With Wimbledon fortnight just behind us a thought struck me as I rode by a packed-out and queued-for set of tennis courts in the city the other day. "Why," I pondered, "do the tennis courts swell with wannabe Murrays and Nadals for those two weeks, while the Tour de France has no obvious impact on those numbers cycling?" The answers weren't hard to find...
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1. It's just not British
Basic point this. Wimbledon is as British as, well, strawberries and cream on Henman Hill. There might only be one main star of note to cheer for, but it takes place here, and it's the greatest tennis show on earth (allegedly). Tennis numbers don't see as obvious an increase during the Australian, French or US Opens. And the Tour de France takes place in... France. So it's foreign. And we don't get excited about foreign things.
Yes, there may be five Brits competing this year, but a competition where just finishing is an achievement, and Wiggins' astounding fourth place 2 years ago should have seen plaudits landed upon him, seems just a little more woolly than 'semi-final'. Knock-outs give an easy indicator of success (or otherwise).
Even where British teams are generally awful in knock-out competition (let's say, for example, football), there is that certainty and understanding and, perhaps crucially, a belief that we invented the sport. British you see. Cycling is for those continental types. The French and the Spanish and the Italians. And the Americans. And the Irish.