Matt Butler: Unruly Children's Institute shows off new batch of EPO

View From The Sofa: UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, Channel 4

What does UCI stand for? Not morally, but the actual initials: do they, as more than one observer has suggested, stand for Utter Clowns In-charge-of-cycling? It would be nice, but let's face it, it is as likely as Tesco standing for Today, Equine Sale, Cash Only.

Given the UCI's apparent Unbending Contempt for Integrity (there's another possibility) over its lily-livered approach to the Lance Armstrong scandal, it was fitting that the first televised cycling event this year to feature their initials was hidden in a dark recess of Channel 4 at 7am on Saturday. It was almost as if the channel – not to mention the organisation – was embarrassed to show the UCI name in public.

And with good reason. The UCI stuck its fingers in its ears, shouting "na na na, can't hear you", for years when people were even daring to suggest Armstrong was a cheat. Then, when the man himself admitted to doping for all seven of his Tour de France titles, it immediately set up a truth commission, only to disband it because the commission refused to do exactly what the UCI wanted.

Add in the bickering between the UCI president, Pat McQuaid (right), and the World Anti-Doping Agency's John Fahey post-Lance and it would be fair to say that any programme featuring the initials UCI would be met with eye-rolling at another missive from the Unruly Children's Institute.

Which is a shame. Because Channel 4's coverage of the World Cyclo-cross Championships was enjoyable, if only to find out what cyclo-cross actually is.

It involves a bunch of 45 riders, mainly northern European, on what appear to be road bikes, riding their machines – or carrying them – over a muddy 2.7-mile circuit involving sand, stairs, steep hills and snow. It looks great fun and is exactly what you'd expect from a branch of cycling said to have evolved from riders wishing to train over the winter by holding "steeplechase" races from town to town over any route possible.

This year's World Championships were held in Louisville, Kentucky – the first time the event has been held outside Europe. But it could have been a corner of Flanders, with the cacophony of cowbells and boisterous, lager-drinking support for the Belgian contingent, who were the favourites for the race.

The races themselves had the atmosphere of a small-town fun run and as such were riddled with EPO – eccentric people outdoors, that is. Apart from the riders willingly spattering themselves with mud as they slipped around the course, the spectators dressed up in anything from gorilla costumes to Vikings. When boiled down into an hour-long highlights package, it made you want to take your Brompton to the nearest towpath or forest trail.

On one of the final corners of the men's race, Belgian Klaas Vantornout lost his chance of taking victory from his compatriot Sven Nys by catching his pedal on a barrier as he carried his bike up a steep hill, just as many a commuter has done when lifting their steed off a train. The elementary error was comforting.

Channel 4's coverage played up the party atmosphere among the spectators, who fully embraced those crazy Europeans. When the World Championships are as low-key as this, it is a reminder that cycling is fun. McQuaid – who was booed and heckled when he presented the men's medals – and the UCI would do well to publicise this new EPO.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'