British riders stole the spotlight and got the big cheers at the official Tour de France teams presentation on Friday night in Trafalgar Square.
Bradley Wiggins (Cofidis), Mark Cavendish (T-Mobile), Geraint Thomas (Barloworld), Dave Millar and Charly Wegelius (Liquigas) lead their teams onto the specially constructed stage in the shadows of the National Gallery and then rightly got the biggest cheer on the ride up and down Whitehall.
David Millar was especially happy to hear a big cheer and waved madly to the crowd, while Bradley Wiggins genuinely seemed to enjoy the support despite being under huge pressure to step up and win Saturday?s prologue.
Welshman Geraint Thomas did not seem nervous despite only celebrating his 21st birthday last week and being the youngest rider in the Tour de France. He appreciated the Welsh flags flying around Trafalgar Square and the fact that he is the first Welshman to ride the Tour de France since Colin Lewis in 1956.
22 year-old Mark Cavendish continued to repeat he has nothing to lose in the sprints but promised he would be riding to win in Canterbury and the other flat stages in the first week, while Charly Wegelius was happy to finally ride his first Tour and happy to be back racing in Britain.
During the presentation all the 21 teams rolled onto the stage to salute the crowd, with Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) making an effort to say in English that he will be riding to win. Thor Hushovd stood out in the Credit Agricole line-up, wearing his Cycle Sport ?I support drug free sport? wrist band, while Cofidis got a big cheer for throwing their baseball caps into the crowd.
Amazingly the evening sun came out on Trafalgar Square and the rain held off for the presentation. Hopefully the two days of Tour de France racing in London and Kent can enjoy similar weather so we can all enjoy some great racing.
The action begins in central London on Saturday afternoon and all five British riders seem determined to leave their mark somewhere on the race. We can only hope it begins in the prologue and then continues in Canterbury but whatever the result, the weekend of the Tour de France in Britain will be the best cycling weekend ever seen on British roads. Let the racing begin.
Bradley Wiggins signs autographs for his fans, who turned out in force