"You never really get used to winning", said Olav Kooij, after his fourth consecutive win in as many days at the Tour of Britain. I imagine that's true, but the rest of us were definitely getting used to the 21-year-old Jumbo-Visma rider raising his hands in the air after yet another bunch gallop.
After five days of racing, the Dutchman has claimed four stages. And, perhaps predictably, fingers have been pointed at the organisers for designing a course that doesn't exactly lend itself to enthralling breakaways or GC showdowns.
Suggesting that a stage race comprising of five flat stages and three hilly days is boring is hardly unfair. But criticism has to take into account context - in this case - the organisers were still holding out hope for a title sponsor with less than two weeks to go until the flag drop.
"It’s absolutely fine to not be enthralled with the race," the Tour of Britain's Nick Bull wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. "We all get it. But the alternative to this parcours was not a hilly route. It was *no race*, which, given the scratchy history of stage races in the UK, would likely have been fatal for the event."
The loss of the 2023 Women's Tour due to a lack of sponsorship is proof, if any were needed, that this is far from an exaggeration.
A significant portion of the funding for these races comes from the local authorities hosting the stages, and so it stands to reason that - especially when cash is tight - the race is going to visit those councils willing to pay.
And whilst 'Olav Kooij wins again' probably doesn't set the world alight for cynical cycling journalists who cover bike racing day in, day out, it certainly stirred the excitement of the Newark Advertiser, who screamed "History has been made on the streets of Nottinghamshire" after the fourth consecutive win. Over in Stockport, it was estimated that 500,000 spectators turned out to watch the opening stage. What we don't see in those finish line pictures - repetitive as they may be - are the rows of flag-waving school children inspired by their first glimpse of a peloton speeding by.
So, no, the Tour of Britain - thus far - has not lent itself to the most enthralling racing. But no race is absolutely not an option any of us wants to entertain.
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