09 July, 2007

Le Tour comes to town

Whew! That was the tour that was! For the first time ever, this weekend, the UK hosted the start ("Grand Depart") of the Tour de France with team presentations on Friday and a 7.9km prologue in the streets of central London on Saturday followed by a 203km road stage from London down to Canterbury on Sunday. It's estimated that over a million spectators turned out in London for the start but there was no fairy tale home victory as neither Bradley Wiggins nor David Millar (both much touted prospects beforehand) made it onto the podium.

Sunday's stage was especially interesting to me as the day's race route passed right through the centre of my hometown of Rochester and even within less than a kilometre from the house in Strood where I was born and lived all my childhood. I was glued to the TV throughout the two stages and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the race running through such familiar surroundings and the massive turn out in Kent was great to see. Millar went on a long solo breakaway on stage one which was fun to watch but a crash near the finish meant that again the fancied Brit. (this time, Mark Cavendish) wasn't in contention for the stage win in Canterbury.

Of course I'll be following the race over the next three weeks, as I always do, but this was an extra special few days and I hope the huge (and overwhelmingly positive) media coverage will inspire lots of folks to take an interest in the sport and, more importantly, get out on bikes themselves.

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