Fabian Cancellara is not merely a strong contender for the road world championship this "Sunday" in Melbourne; he's also the odds-on favorite, sandbagging or not, to retain the world time trial championship he's held since 2006 save for the Olympic interruption of '08. Which invites us to contemplate the possibility of ... a double rainbow.
It's happened before. From 1995 thru 2001 there were four sightings of the Double Rainbow... but only one at the senior level. Nobody will be surprised to learn that was Jeannie Longo, in 1995. Prior to 1994 the Double Rainbow wasn't possible in any competition, since that was the first year they began running a time trial at the Men's and Women's Elite level. Earlier worlds events included a team time trial for both women and men, along with an amateur race for the boys. By 1996 the UCI added U23 competitions (en ligne and c.l.m.) for the men, and in 1997 they added both races for junior boys and junior girls, a full slate of ten races. 2004 was the last year they ran the junior events concurrently with the big worlds, and since 2005 we've been stuck on six races, two each for the men, women, and U23 guys.
After Longo's groundbreaking double, it was four years before Genevieve Jeanson matched Longo in the Women's U23 titles. A year later Evgeni Petrov, now with Katusha, pulled off the Double Rainbow in the Men's U23. And the last to do it was Nicole Cooke, in women's juniors, in 2001. The closest call on the Elite Men's side was in 1997 in San Sebastian, when two French Laurents (Brochard and Jalabert) won the titles. JaJa a crono world champ?? Moving right along... Anyway, it's worth noting that all of these accomplishments happened when a river of EPO was flowing through the sport, and Jeanson is known for raising the bar on cheating, admitting that she juiced non-stop from age 16. Not sure when you want to declare that era over, but as the sport has gradually weaned itself off drugs, the chances at doubling have been scant. Judith Arndt won double bronze two years ago, and Noemi Cantele got a bronze and a silver last year. Only Cancellara himself has a gold medal and a second piece of hardware, a bronze (so far)... in the 2008 Olympics. Frankly, two winning efforts like that in 72 hours is more than just about any human can do, within the rules.
Still, as long as it's a possibility, it's interesting to contemplate. I am probably not alone in having a soft spot in my heart for the Double Rainbow. If you're reading this now via the internet [?], there's a pretty good chance you've seen this inspiring video:
Yep, it's Yosemitebear, a/k/a Bear Vasquez, the ultimate fighter turned ultimate celebrant of the wonders of his back yard. If you can't get enough of the awesome posted here, you really should check out the Double Rainbow song. Unless you're the kind of person who doesn't like having the same catchy tune playing in their thoughts for weeks at a time.
Anyway, I think we would be remiss if we did not ponder the wonders at work in cycling. Here's Bear Vasquez contemplating the double rainbow. And here we are wondering whether the Swiss Bear can accomplish his own version. Seriously. What does it mean? I don't know, but if it happens, it will be so intense.
And yes, I am having fun now.