Monday 14 September 2015

Tour of Britain 2015

Aviva Tour of Britain 2015 Peak District Peter Kennaugh National Champion Team Sky Stage 6
I paid a visit to my local cycle shop on Thursday. After discussing babies, tram tracks and wheels with the owner the talk moved on to the Tour of Britain cycle race that was going through the Peak District the next day. I had looked at the route a couple of weeks ago but decided against going as I didn't think I would get back in time to be able to collect the Junior JabberJibbers. So the seed had been resown and before I knew it I was on the phone to Mr JibberJabber. A few minutes later Mr JibberJabber had got the day of work and planned a different route which would enable us to make a quick getaway after the peloton had passed by.
The origins of the Tour of Britain race go back to the 1940s. Back then it was an unofficial race which wasn't recognised by the British administrative authority of the time, the National Cyclists' Union (NCU), or the world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Despite its unofficial status and the problems in the management of the race the popularity of the event grew over the years and was able to attract sponsorship.
As has been common in cycling newspapers gave their support in the form of prize money and overall sponsorship. In 1954 Quaker Oats became the new sponsor until 1958 when the long association with the Milk Marketing Board started. For the next 35 years the race became known as the Milk Race. At first it was only open to amateur cyclists but in 1985 it became a pro-am event. When the Milk Marketing Board was forced to close in 1993 due to European monopoly rules so ended the race in that format. Rather confusingly in 1987 a fully professional Tour of Britain was created. At first it was known as the Kellogg's Tour and in 1998 the Pru Tour when the Prudential financial company sponsored it for two years. Sadly due to two incidents involving motorists the event became less attractive to sponsors and was cancelled the following year.
In the next five years the popularity of cycling in Britain grew and grew with the GB team's success in the Olympics and individual performances in the Tour of France. In 2004 the Tour of Britain returned in a new format. Its status enabled it to attract some of the best World Tour teams as well as many lower ranked British based teams. The overall event is now sponsored by Aviva and known as the Aviva Tour of Britain rather than just the Aviva Tour.
The total race takes place over eight days and eight different stages. At the end of all the eight stages the rider who has got round all the stages in the quickest time is crowded the winner. Of course not all the teams have a rider good enough to compete for the overall title so there are other classifications to go for. There are sprint points at various locations throughout each stage. On seven of the eight stages certain climbs are deemed worthy enough for the King of the Mountains (KOM) competition. There's an overall points competition plus of course the winner of each stage. Each day the race jury awards the Combativity award for the most attacking or aggressive rider of the day.
It was at the KOM finish point in the Peak District that we decided to watch the race from. Known to us as 'Surprise View' but on the race map as 'Millstone Edge' it forms the end of long climb up from Hathersage to the road above the National Trust's Longshaw estate. The whole of stage six was not for the faint hearted. The stage started in Stoke-on-Trent and finished in Nottingham. Normally this would be a fairly flat route along the A50 but on this day it went into the Peak District via Leek, Buxton, Chinley, Sparrowpit and then all across to Hathersage before going through Bakewell, Matlock onto Belper before finally arriving at Nottingham. In all the day consisted of 192.8km of riding from start to finish plus a series of hills one after the other.
Before any of the riders come through there a number of support vehicles that have to make their way from start to finish. There are the cars containing race officials and VIP guest plus a large number of police motorcycles ensuring the route is clear and safe to pass through.

The reason we positioned ourselves at the top of a climb is that on stage races the riders pass by you only once. You can stand for hours only for the entire race to pass you by in less than thirty seconds. Obviously if the cyclists have just made their way up a climb they are going to be much slower. 

On this day the tough course meant the leading group had amassed a lead of over 15 minutes over the peloton by the time they had got to us. At the end of the race that had extended to 45 minutes!
After everyone had finally made their way through it was time for the road to reopen to the general public. Some people decided to follow the route on their bikes whilst others dashed off in an attempt to see the finish in Nottingham. For us it was a hike across the beautiful purple heather and a car ride home just in time to collect the kids.
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1 comment:

  1. Very cool photos!
    Hope to see you at, and at the new weekly linkup which will be opening in just a few hours!


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