Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mark Beaumont is officially my new hero.

Mark is the 25 year-old (yes, 25!) Scottish lad who recently broke the Guinness World Record for cycling around the world in a record-breaking 194 days and 17 hours.

Whereas Jan Ullrich was once my favourite cyclist whom I idolized, I was totally disheartened when he was fired from T-Mobile in the 2006 Tour de France amidst doping allegations. I love(d) Jan Ullrich because he was (is?) perhaps one of the most talented and gifted cyclists - behind Eddy Merckx - but he was human, privy to faults, and notoriously gained lots of weight during the off-season. Interestingly, Jan Ullrich recently agreed to pay a six-figure sum in exchange for German prosecutors closing the fraud/ doping investigation against him. On his website, he wrote:

"I was always a fair sportsman, the payment is not a confession of any guilt. The state prosecutor did not demand one either.

It cannot be considered an admission of guilt because no one was betrayed. A fight to get an acquittal would have cost me a lot more money. I was willing to accept a financial sanction only because the lion's share of the amount is going to charity."

Either way, I don't know what to make of it; I'm just sad that Ullrich was unceremoniously sacked from T-Mobile and has retired under a cloud of suspicion.

Getting back to Mark, he recently came into my work to introduce a sneak peek of the last two episodes of The Man Who Cycled the World (the second to last episode can now be seen on the BBC iPlayer here) and to answer questions from the audience.

During the screenings, he sat one seat over from me and oh my god, he is even cuter in person! Hard to believe, however, that he is only 25! I was desperate to ask him some questions about his trip and bike preferences but alas, I was too shy.

Anyway, be sure to check out the last episode of The Man Who Cycled the World tonight on BBC2 at 7.00pm. The last episode sees Mark crossing America before heading back to the finish in Paris.

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