— Toms Skujiņš (@Tomashuuns) January 16, 2022
When Latvian Trek-Segafredo champ and wearer of the coolest kit in town, Toms Skujiņš posted this image of him lifting weights over the weekend, it got me thinking (naturally enough) – how the today’s generation of professional cyclists do with a modern version of Superstars?
While the Superstars are perhaps best known these days for a certain permanent footballer who crashes spectacularly on a cinder track during the bike race, the cyclists themselves have never really made a mark on the spectacle.
Because, let’s face it, cyclists – remarkable physical specimens, yes, but not traditionally known for their overall athletic ability or even upper body strength – tended to perform poorly when pitted against athletes of other sports in what was essentially a televised sport. daytime.
In 1980, Joop Zoetemelk – who would go on to win the Tour de France later that year – finished dead last in the international version of the Superstars, 45 points behind British judoka and Superstars legend Brian Jacks.
The Dutchman came last in the 100m sprint, basketball competition, swimming race, obstacle course and gym test, before – perhaps knowingly – not taking part in the weightlifting contest.
In the gymnastics test, each athlete had to perform as many parallel dips and squat thrusts as possible in the allotted time. Jacks scored an incredibly impressive 80. Poor old Joop’s score? One. Yes it is. One. At least his Tour win later that summer gave him some consolation.
Luckily for Joop, other stars of the 1970s peloton didn’t quite cover themselves in glory on the Superstars either. In 1976, Raymond Poulidor finished bottom of his sleeve behind winner Bjorn Borg. Walter Godefroot and Freddy Maertens also came in last when they took on the Superstars challenge.
The cyclists have fared much better in modern iterations of the show, however: Chris Boardman finished second to rugby player Austin Healey in a 2002 revamp, restoring cycling’s reputation somewhat, although Lizzie Deignan did not failed to put a glove (pardon the pun) on Helen Glover in a 2012 Olympic special.
So do you think today’s most complete pros such as Van der Poel, Alaphilippe and Vos would face a basketball game against Rafa Nadal, Adam Peaty and Lucy Bronze?
Maybe I need to go out more…