A crowning week of glory for British cycling as the crowds massed to see the current top names in the game along with names of the future.
The Tour of Britain had probably it’s best week ever, last week, as huge crowds braved all weathers, from blazing late summer sun, to pissing rain, to storm gales to see the current Tour de France winner and the reigning World Champion take to their home roads for eight days.
To top it off along with seeing Bradley Wiggins lead out Mark Cavendish, there was previous Grand Tour winner Ivan Basso – twice in the Giro – and Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez – 7 top 10 finishes in Grand Tours – and they saw, finally, a British winner after twenty years, to go with British riders picking up all but one of the four individual jersey competitions.
Kristian House in the King of the Mountains – does seem a bit bizarre after the Vuelta we’ve just seen that you can get points for climbs in Suffolk and Norfolk. Peter Williams in the Sprint classification and of course Jonathan Tiernan-Locke the overall winner in the Gold jersey. Just Boy Van Poppel spoiling the party picking up the Points classification.
Tiernan-Locke was the favourite for the win and he didn’t disappoint as his Endura team rode a good race, nearly always up the front with Sky. It was all expected to fall his way with the climbs over Caerphilly mountain on stage 6. As expected it’s where he took the gold jersey lead in the general classification. Surprisingly though he attacked on the first ascent not the second but once he did it was game over. Didn’t win the stage but gained enough time on the road to go along with the time bonus for finishing second to claim the race lead.
It’s been a good year for the 27 year old with this win following his King of the Mountains win last year, along with victories this season in the Tour Alsace, Tour Méditerranéen and Tour du Haut Var, putting him in the shop window for a move to a big team. This week he’ll be in the Great Britain squad for the World Championship road race, before possibly signing for Sky.
Sky of course will probably have an opening soon as current reigning World Champion Mark Cavendish is seeking an
amicable split from the team. No surprise really as the team becomes more geared towards their goal of world domination through the Grand Tour general classification, it’s a waste of a great talent having the best sprinter ever riding back to the team car to pick up bottles. A job it has to be said Cav didn’t whinge about doing.
It was a mixed Tour for Cav and the rest of the Sky team. The sprint king had three stage wins and lead the race for a day. He was a major part of the big pile up before the finish of the first stage, as his team-mate Luke Rowe took the victory, was second the following day as a bit of miscalculation saw him boxed in after dropping back to find another wheel as Rowe powered too far ahead.
Then two stages in a row the second into Blackpool seeing him take the gold jersey. Which he wasn’t that bothered about, wanting to spend as much times as possible in the rainbow jersey during his final week as World Champion. So that lead didn’t last long as he lost complete contact round Stoke on the next stage. The comical moment of Wiggins asking about if anyone knew where Cav was, riding back to try and find him – asking a cameraman on a motorbike – then circling about on the road waiting for Cav to appear. Eventually finding him the pair ended up being over 11 minutes behind the stage winner.
That was it for Wiggins, before the next stage in Wales he puled out with a bug. So the crowds on the final stage into Guildford didn’t see the yellow jersey winner lead Cavendish on to his third stage win in his last day in the rainbow jersey.
Despite that it was a great success, another British cycling success story.
Of course the real only down point of the whole proceedings was on the TV front with the hopeless Hugh Porter spoiling it for the armchair viewer. What a joy it was when he had to miss the final two stages and we didn’t have to turn down the volume as he screeched various names and numbers that had nothing to do with anything and were either pronounced bizarrely or were just completely wrong. As with calling, screaming, the wrong winner of the first stage then screaming Cav had won the 2nd stage just because the computer showed it when everyone, including himself had seen this didn’t happen. As I Tweeted after that first stage…
Knew Hugh Porter was going to be at his worst when he said he'd never heard of the team Saur-Sojasun.
— Toxic Web (@Toxic_Web) September 10, 2012