It was the last stage of the Tour of Britain in London yesterday. Not one of the “grand tours” that last for weeks and weeks in the baking Mediterranean sun and up and down huge mountain ranges. However a week cycling the length of Britain is tough, some of the climbs in the Lake District and Dartmoor rate alongside some of the Tour De France stages in the Alps.
Anyway my wife and I went to meet my son and his girlfriend and stood in Whitehall to watch the last stage, 16 laps around the centre of London. It was really impressive. These guy hum along at 30 – 40mph, when the peloton of 100plus riders come passed you at that speed it is startling that there are not more crashes and serious injuries. Seeing them on a stage like this was great as they did 16 laps and we could see them both come down and go back up Whitehall. In the end Steve Cummings maintained his 20 second lead to win the race overall capping a great year for British cycling with a Brit winning our major home race. And I can say I watched the last stage of the last race by Britain’s greatest ever Olympian, Sir Bradley Wiggins. It was obvious that he wasn’t fit for a race like this, being heavier than he should be after focusing on the velodrome for his last Olympic triumph recently. He stayed with the peloton however but towards the back.
I was struck though by the shear enormity of the effort put in by these guys day in day out. I know cycling has had a bad reputation regarding doping etc. but putting that to one side it is remarkable what the human body can do with training and effort. Watching some of the paralympics has only confirmed that to me – watch Hannah Cockroft win the 100m final. Simply – incredible!