Fans flock to Tour of Britain

Crowds have become the recurring theme of recent editorials. Put on a bike race these days and you’ll be mobbed, particularly if there’s a chance of glimpsing Bradley Wiggins or Mark Cavendish.

It seems that our Tour de France and Olympic success really has created a lasting legacy judging from the hysteria created by the Tour of Britain last week. What a contrast to just five years ago when Cav won his first stages of the national tour. Back in 2007 a pre-race web poll warned us that you weren’t too keen on watching and this gloomy prediction proved all too true for the prologue time trial in Crystal Palace Park.

“A very modest affair, a day of racing that only appealed to hardcore fans,” I moaned back then on a Sunday afternoon when the gathering at the Punch and Judy man in the park rivalled the number of bike fans.

What a transformation – the race has become a major sporting attraction, fun for all the family. There didn’t seem to be a quiet spot on any day, anywhere in the country, as everybody wanted to be in on the action.

Sunday’s finale was no exception with police estimating up to a quarter of a million around the route. Extra trains were run to cope, park and ride services instigated, and in places the crowds rivalled the Olympics. Back in August we wondered how long we would have to wait to relive the London 2012 experience. The answer was just one month. Simply amazing.  

Robert Garbutt, Editor.

This article was first published in the September 20 issue of Cycling Weekly. You can also read our magazines on Zinio and download from the Apple store.