Think cycling suffers in Britain as a poor relation to the continent? You should have been in Trafalgar Square on Friday night. Actually, chances are, you were. The crowd was enormous.
Prior to the official Tour de France 2007 team presentation, organisers had estimated that 25,000 people would turn up in one of London’s most famous landmarks to celebrate the start of the Grand Depart. It must have been twice, three times that. The crowd spilled out of the square well into the surrounding streets, otherwise eerily free of traffic.
The riders streamed onto the stage, team by team, and were introduced to the audience before filing out to ride around a short circuit through the crowds. The British contingent of Bradley Wiggins, David Millar, Mark Cavendish, Charly Wegelius and Geraint Thomas all received the biggest cheers, proving that the fans already know who they are supporting.
Walking around London, the Tour is everywhere. Posters on buses, in trains stations, all the London papers carrying Tour guides and, of course, signs of the great race itself – the banners, barricades, stalls and flags along the race route.
The Tour has taken over London, and the people seem to love it.
Massive crowds turned out to watch the team presentation
Bradley Wiggins rides through the streets around Trafalgar square to loud applause
Mark Cavendish was one of the stars of the show
Could it be…