Tuesday, 11 September 2007

The Tour of Britain hits Worcester

Stage three of the race starts in Worcester tomorrow and I am going to ride the penny out to watch the race at Ankerdine. I have decided on Ankerdine as, previous readers of the blog will already know, it's a climb I have first hand experience of. Racing up it as a stand alone event is hard enough, the tour riders will be 60km into the stage with another 90km to go. It will be interesting to see how fast the pro riders go.

Although I'm really into cycling I've not actually watched that much racing live. I did go to watch Armstrong in his last tour de France though, and it was an amazing experience. We rode up some of the famous climbs just before the race came through so the crowds were massive and the atmosphere was amazing.
The first stage that I watched went up the climb of Ax-les-thermes, I can't really explain what I felt when the main riders came into view for the first time. A few hours earlier I had struggled up the climb at snails pace, then Armstrong, Ulrich and Basso came up the mountain side by side, looking almost effortless. The crowds parted around them and I genuinely felt that I was in the presence of greatness, and I'm sure that others watching felt the same. It sounds stupid I know, but I have never felt that before, or since, it was an incredible experience. The other thing that has stayed with me is the support for the riders from the crowd. Most of the fans were French, a fair number of Spainish and then little groups of English, Americans, Germans etc. All of the fans without exception offered their support towards all of the riders. The french desperaply didn't want Armstrong to win again, but when he came though they all gave him a clap and a cheer, the fans appreciated his performance. They would have preferd him to have gone badly but nobody offered anything but applause towards him. Imagine that at a football game...
On another day I managed to get a couple of photos as the riders went by, this one is of Jan Ulrich as he suffered up the climb to St lary Soulan. Jan was unlucky enough to be competing against Lance Armstrong and some of the strongest teams in history. In any other era Jan would have ruled.
Anyway, tomorrow I will cheer on all of the riders at the Tour of Britain, I'll just try to cheer a bit harder when I see anyone British! I'll update this post later in the week...

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