Since the success of Britain’s Olympic cyclists and abundance of gold medals in the London Olympics the annual Tour of Britain race has been given more publicity and has grown in popularity in the United Kingdom.
In 2017, we were lucky to have the finish of stage 7 of the race in Cheltenham close to us and after our trip to the Alps to watch Le Tour de France there was no stopping us and we just had to go and experience another great iconic cycling race.
Anticipating crowds and traffic jams we took the double decker bus into Cheltenham. From the top deck we could see storm clouds building up in the distance – not a good sign for the cyclists or indeed us and all of the spectators. Around the finish area thousands of people gathered lining the streets waiting for the cyclists to arrive and finish their epic 115 mile Cotswold race with a sprint finish. The whole area had been transformed with large TV screens and broadcasting units and corporate hospitality. The atmosphere was amazing and very exciting.
1000’s of people lined the beautiful regency style streets of Cheltenham but in true British Summer weather style, the heavens opened 30 minutes before the race finish with everyone huddling under umbrellas and rivers of watering pouring down the gutters. A new phenomenon, umbrella sharing came into force where we were positioned just a few metres before the finish and we can confirm, It’s certainly a way to meet new friends. The bad weather did not dampen the crowd’s spirits awaiting the race leaders and peloton. What a different experience from the Alps but still very enjoyable.
In a flash, the cyclists arrived into town and the crowds were not disappointed by the sprint finishes. The race was won by Lotto-NL Jumbo’s Dylan Groenwegen.
As the crowds dispersed we made our way towards the team cars and buses which had congregated beside the Queens Hotel at the top of the promenade. By this time the rain had stopped and we were very lucky to see Mark Cavendish & Geraint Thomas greeting members of the public. We even managed to spot Mark’s bike which was a real treat.
We hope to get to see the Tour of Britain again this year but having experienced the fast finish we think we will position ourselves at the top of a steep climb so that we get to see more of the cyclists climbing at a slower speed and this way there will not be such large crowds.
The 2018 route will be announced in the Spring of 2018 so make sure you follow the Tour of Britain on Facebook & Twitter