Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Whats in a name?

Cycling is indeed like no other sport, what sets is apart from others isn't that we ride bikes whilst others kick a coke can round a muddy field, or that we wear Lycra whilst others are attired in XXXXL shirts with the words 'Champion darts' on the back. No what sets us apart is the use of nicknames.

Other sports have nicknames, but lets face it does calling your mate, Giggsy, or Beckhamey actually strike fear into your opponents? Of course it doesn't.
But call yourself the Bulldog of Flanders, or the Lion of Flanders or any other fierce animal from Flanders and you're half way to a victory. Add the words Eagle, or Condor or Falcon to your name and you can bet that when the road starts to climb yous will be the wheel everyone wants to sit on. In cycling we long ago realised that psychology plays a major role in sport and anything you can do to give you a psychological edge is worth it, even if it involves abandoning the name your parents gave you and adopting a slightly bizarre animal related one.

Like most things though it's often a fine line between striking fear and getting your opponents pissing themselves laughing. Sean Yates was called the animal and in Sean's case that conjured images of aggression, there have been plenty of other riders who if given that nickname would get you thinking of kittens and rabbits.
I used to race with a guy who's nickname was 'the seagull', not because he could soar majestically above the roads we toiled on, but because when ever an attack went up the road, or indeed when ever the road went up the road, he'd flap around in the bunch waiting to crap on you.

But are we running out of decent nicknames? As a sport we've come a long way from 'the chimney sweep' to the cobra. Although Ricco would be better off stuck up a chimney in my opinion. And now we're in the 21st century will we have to think up a whole new raft of names for great riders.
Animal related ones we're very much last century, lets dig out some that are more appropriate for the new millennium. How about the credit cruncher from Cann? Or the recycler from Ronse? Errrr... on second thoughts, where's the zoo.

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