The Heroes often speak with a collective voice, yet being of our own independent minds we cannot help but have our favorites. Remaining nameless, we can say there are some Heroes which have what in some circles may be considered an unhealthy obsessions with Tyler Farrar (and his hair). Other Heroes dream of eating meatballs in our parent’s RV while often unsuccessfully comparing their own weight to the weight of mighty Thor Hushovd. Still other level-minded Heroes just think fast guys like Honey Badger Cav win races. And some, well some Heroes pick a guy to win the World Championships because he’s like the rest of us (you should not take this Hero to Vegas).
While I very well may be one of the specific aforementioned Tenspeed Heroes, my role here will be entirely pragmatic. Between the bike Blogosphere and speculative sideburns of Jonathan Vaughters, professional cycling seems to be a sport often looming in the great gap between theory and practice: a conundrum well-suited for philosophical pragmatism. While the pragmatic method may primarily be a method of settling otherwise interminable (perhaps loftier) metaphysical disputes (fate vs. free, material vs. spiritual, etc.), with application to the World Championships, I will lighten things up and use this method to answer this question of Philipe Gilbert: Hero or Not Hero?
Nevermind the fact that Gilbert will be riding with a race-proven Belgian squad, harnessing the power of Classics-dominating domestics like Nick Nuyens and Johan Vansummeren. Think more about the Gilbert’s motives, based on real consequences of winning the World Championships. With gleaming trophies from The Strade Bianche, Ghent Wevelgem, every one of the Ardennes classics, along with a Belgian National jersey, a Green Jersey, and a Polka Dot Jersey the rounding of his wardrobe alone will be all the motivation Gilbert needs to win the finest and most recognizable piece of clothing in cycling: a real consequence (not some dewy-eyed idealist fantasy about hair or meatballs). The pragmatist would wish Philipe Gilbert good luck in Copenhagen but by definition we do not think he will need it. So the answer to our World Championship question is without doubt: HERO. Results and motives are the proof. The collective mind surely would agree.