TCS Sport talks to Chris Boardman

Gerald Wu 27 November 2013

Chris Boardman, MBE, 1992 Olympic gold medalist, three times holder of the World Hour Record and wearer of the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France, took time off his visit to Cambridge to share his thoughts on HGVs, team GB and Wiggo-Froome…

What is the responsible solution forward for the issue of HGVs?

HGVs, which are 5% of the traffic but are involved with 64% of fatalities, need to be managed through the day. That’s already done in over 60% of European cities. I had a discussion with Boris Johnson 8 months ago and he said he will look into it. I think this is just one measure and it should not be over-focused. I am a real fan of Boris Johnson and Andrew Gilligan, the cycling commissioner, but because they are so visible they are always the first to be shot at. Yes, I am disappointed but they are the good guys, so don’t shoot at them.

Can you elaborate more on other solutions?

The simplest, cheapest and most effective way is to introduce 20mph zones. Normalising traffic speed is the single most effective thing that can be done. Even when there is an accident, the severity is vastly reduced. It also makes the streets belong more to the people.

Back to the sporting side of things, how involved are you with team GB now?

A lot less. The concept of R&D, which was the bulk of the work I was involved in, needs fresh eyes, new ideas and direction all the time. That’s why it was good to stop at London.

How long do you think Team GB’s success will last?

I think there is going to be a dip, it’s inevitable. You can’t have success without failure. Failure makes you say: ‘this is horrible. I want to change.’ It was actually feeling like that that made the team successful. They came up with a whole new way of thinking. The natural thing that happens is that they think they are doing really well and don’t want to change. It becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. I think they did very well at London after Beijing. One of the main instigators – Sir Dave Brailsford – has other priorities now with the Sky team. They set the bar so high now that even if they came back from Rio with 5 gold medals, it might not be good enough.

Have you noticed the recent uptake in cycling after the recent successes?

British Cycling membership has gone up year on year. It is forecasted to keep going up 20% per year currently. In cycling sales, which I am heavily involved in, there is an upward trend that doesn’t show any signs of relenting. I think there were 3.6 – 3.7 million bikes sold last year. So, all the trends show that cycling is here to stay for awhile.

What’s your take on the relationship between Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins?

I don’t think there is one. It’s only natural. When you put two winners in the same box together, there is going to be friction. I don’t think they get on philosophically but they just about manage to deal with it. I think Chris Froome is the one here that is likely to stay. Bradley Wiggins did what he wanted to achieve and now he has taken stock of where he wants to go next. I imagine if you put them in a room ten years from now, they will have a decent conversation. At the moment, they are just competitors, and there is going to be friction.

How long are you going to continue the Broadman Bikes business?

As long as it keeps making money. It is very enjoyable to sketch something on a napkin and see it go all the way through to being a prototype and a product and getting a review on a magazine that wins a review. It is very satisfying. It’s a fascinating new area to look at. We are in 96 countries now and we only started in 2007.