So, the long wait is over. Let the drums roll. Mark Cavendish’s days as “Cannonball Cav” or the “The Manx Express” could be over. Ladies and Gentleman, please prey silence and prepare to welcome…The Mongoose.
Eh? The Mongoose? I know what you’re thinking: ‘Is that really the best the combined intellectual muscle of this blog’s readership has come up with since I launched my Campaign To Coin A New Nickname for Mark Cavendish a few days ago? You’re kidding, right?’
Actually, no, I’m not. And here’s why. Of the twenty or so suggestions I’ve received so far, if it’s not the outright winner, John Acosta’s mammalian moniker is clearly the clubhouse leader. That’s because, as John says, mongoose are “fast, agile and absolutely fearless”. They’re also kindly of cuddly like Cavendish. But, best of all, they apparently eat…cobras.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Now Cavendish and cycling’s own Cobra aren’t such natural enemies that you could one day imagine the Brit hopping off his bike, scuttling towards Riccardo Riccò and swallowing him whole in the middle of a Tour stage, but the image has its appeal, doesn’t it?
John Acosta thinks so…
“It was inspired by two sources: American drag racing and the fact that mongoose can out run a cobra’s strike,” John wrote to me in an e-mail. “Drag racing is an inspiration because in the 1950s and 60s there was a rivalry between two pioneers of drag racing, Tom “Mongoose” McEwen and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. The speed and audacity of cycling’s sprinters and the way they also turn on the “nitrous oxide” (the creatine phosphate system in the muscles that fuels their burst of high powered speed) in the last few hundred meters also reminds me of Top Fuel Dragsters fighting it out in the quarter mile.“
Drag racing, Tour de France style
Good stuff, eh? I certainly thought so, even if, as I mentioned, I’m just slightly concerned that another rider might make a more meritorious Mongoose than our Cav, if only because they dislike Riccò more. I’m thinking Filippo Pozzato, for example. Pozzato who also just so happens to hate Cavendish. The British mongoose versus the Italian “Mangusta”. Or is it me that’s starting to sound as mad as a mongoose?
Anyway, I haven’t quite made up my mind yet. I also haven’t asked Cavendish. This whole foolish business stemmed from him telling me that he didn’t want a nickname, so he’ll probably be nonplussed either way. But then maybe he won’t. I’ll ask him if any of your other suggestions tickle his fancy: Kid Cav, Sir Manxalot, The Mannimal, Cavalry Cavendish, MC Hammer (don’t ask), Jake The Peg (really don’t ask) …