Cyclist statues in the spotlight as countdown to Tour de France continues

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A University of Sheffield researcher who has compiled databases of sporting statues across the globe has delved into the world of Tour de France tributes as the world's biggest annual cycle race comes to Sheffield.

In the University's latest video Deconstructing the Tour, Dr Chris Stride, a statistician from the Institute of Work Psychology, reveals the countries where statues of cyclists can be found, what they say about the sport and how they differ from statues celebrating other sportsmen.

Dr Stride, who has been running a Sporting Statues project for four years, says the statues of cyclists tend to show them suffering as they struggle up the Tour’s great climbs.

"If you compare cycling to football, a statue of a footballer tends to depict them executing a great piece of skill or playing with a particular style - something the mere mortal cannot do," he said.

"If you think of cycling, nearly anyone can get on a bike and have a go, so it has to be something about cyclists beyond just riding the bike that makes them great.

"I think it is the ability to keep going when mere mortals would have given up that makes the greatest heroes in cycling."

In the video, he speaks about statues of Octave Lapize at Col de Tourmalet, great Italian climber Marco Pantani at Colle Della Fauniera in Italy and Briton Tommy Simpson, who died while competing on the Tour in 1967 after taking amphetamines and collapsing of exhaustion while climbing Mont Ventoux.

He added: "Although the Simpson tribute is the only current statue in the UK, I would expect Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome to be honoured in this way at some point in the future – possibly along with some of our great cycling Olympians such as Chris Hoy.

"But cyclists, like other sportsmen in individual events, are disadvantaged in terms of being commemorated by a statue compared to team sport players, since they do not have a club fan base to campaign and fundraise."

The University's Deconstructing the Tour website features an interactive map where users can explore some of the Tour de France and cycling statues around the world.

It also includes videos of Emeritus Professor David Walker, from the Department of French, speaking about the rich and colourful history of the Tour, while Dr Matt Johnson, from the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology explains the Krebs Cycle - discovered by Sir Hans Krebs at the University of Sheffield in 1937.

Sir Hans went on to receive the Nobel Prize for Medicine/Physiology in 1953, was knighted five years later and received an honorary degree (DSc) from the University of Sheffield in 1959.

To watch the videos, visit Deconstructing the Tour.

Additional information

The University of Sheffield

With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

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