On our journey home on Friday we headed for Old Bristol Hill, just outside Wells in Somerset to take in the 6th stage as the riders surmounted this 3 mile climb. I drove up it and its a horror. They had already done the 3 mile climb of Cheddar Gorge. Bristol Hill has a couple of false flats but the last mile is a long steep drag and a sharp turn at the top and then about 50 metres to the King of the Mountains finish line. After this climb they only had about 14 miles to go to the finish in Wells.
I was there good and early and a parking spot just one car away from the finish line and they were still setting up the KOM line.
Down the hill a bit and the crowd starts to build
The Riders approach, Jonathan Tiernan Locke KOM in Green and Lars Boom in Yellow and the backside of Steve Cummings leading up the hill !
.. and keep coming..
and gone !!!
This race watching entails a lot of hanging around and the flurry of action involving trying to take pictures and also having an eye on who is doing what.. nevertheless its quite exciting and plenty of pre-race banter with other spectators. I enjoy it very much as brief as it is. The way these guys ride when you are close up takes your breath away sometimes..
Some pictures of the trip down to Devon to take in stages 5 and 6 of the Tour of Britain. I elected to see the start of stage 5 at Exeter and the finish at Exmouth as I it gave more chance to see the riders, albeit not riding but more time to see them and the bikes and I had never seen the start or finish of the stage although, I didn’t see much of the finish as the it was a high speed sprint finish, about 50+mph so they were past in a flash, no chance whatsoever of a picture but a great atmosphere beforehand.
The signing in podium in Front of Exeter Cathedral about 90 minutes before the start
I then went to the teams parking area to see the bikes and hopefully some of the riders but they seemed to stay in the team buses until the very last minute.
Team Sky's race bikes ready for the 'off'
HTC Highroad spare bikes
Mark Renshaw and Mark Cavendish's Mclaren 'spare' bikes
Bernie Eisels race bike (4) and Mark Cavendish (1)
Front of Mark Cavendish bike with chunky 'Pro' Stem and Lars Bak and Marke Renshaw race bikes
A mini bus full of HTC Highroad riders
Bernie Eisel emerges, being checked by Allan Peiper..
Ben Swift, Team Sky, last minute checks..
Lars Bak, HTC Highroad
Geraint Thomes leaving the Sky bus in points leaders jersey
Race Start, Lars Boom (Yellow)
Mark Cavendish, HTC Highroad
This is at the finish line in Exmouth and the guy who did a brilliant job keeping the crowd entertained for 2 hours or more..
I didnt manage to get a picture of the finish as they were on us so fast and by the time I got through the crowds to the team bus area all the riders were safely locked away in their buses and preparing for the trip to Taunton for stage 6..
Just a quick apology for my temporary absence as I have been away for a few days down to Devon and Somerset to take in couple of stages of the Tour of Britain cycle race and I will be posting some pictures from there quite soon when I have downloaded and edited them and also details of todays Team MK training ride.
Stage 5 of the Tour of Britain was from Tavistock in Devon to Glastonbury in Somerset. We took up position at the top of Coombe Hill or also known as Rosemary Hill, just outside the village of Hemyock. Another 20% climb at the bottom and then it weaves its way up and flattens off to about 15% and a fairly straight run up to the King of the Mountains competition finish line.
We eventually found our way to a spot just a couple of hundred metres after the bends finished to get a view of them approaching and then heading on to the KoM finish line. We passed the waiting time in friendly banter with fellow spectators around us and the time soon went
Eventually the sound of helicopters and approaching motor bikes was to be heard. The Police bikes create a rolling road block, a ‘bubble’ in which the riders are able to go where they like on the road without the fear of approaching traffic. Its quite an impressive feat of organisation and motorbike handling skills when you see it in action.
Again there was a breakaway of three riders including England’s Bradley Wiggins who went on to finish on the stage. They were followed by a chasing group of about 4 riders and then after about 10 minutes the peloton. The peloton came past on our side of the road and very close. The speed they were going up the 15% bit of the climb was amazing to witness, given that they had already ridden a 20% section of about half a mile. They were virtually sprinting to keep in touch with each other, quite amazing from my perspective I have to say.
Thats pretty much it so far as my involvement with the Tour of Britain was concerned apart from going home to watch the highlights of each stage daily on ITV4. Also I had a go at a couple of the climbs myself over the next few days. More of that later.
Well it almost seems like we are strangers again after such a long break. Its taken me a while but I am back again.. eventually..
Apologies for the extended absence there just seems to have been a lot going on recently and writing time has been somewhat limited, along with the lack of impetus to get writing again.
Over the next few postings I will attempt to summarise the happenings of the last few weeks. Including our visit to Devon to visit family and watch the Tour of Britain.
Firstly the visit to Devon and taking in two stages of the Tour of Britain . You can glean most of the information about the actual race and stages by clicking that link. My personal involvement was in watching stages four and five in Devon.
Sidmouth with Peak Hill just beyond the town
Stage four saw us finding our way to the top of the 20% incline ( 1 in 5 ) of Peak Hill just outside Sidmouth. It is a killer of a climb as I can vouch for, see details of my experience a little further on. I decided that would be the best place for an extended view of the riders as they would be going slower there. We got to the top of the climb quite early and found a car park that was remarkably unpopulated. However that may be more than a little due to the fact that we got there two hours before any riders were due. So early in fact that we had time for a walk through the woods to the cliff top and a great view of the Jurassic Coastline. The cliffs are full of fossils from the Jurassic period in time, which even pre-dates me ! Walking back towards our car park we passed a whole lot of guys flying radio controlled gliders in the terrific winds that were blowing there and the updraft from the winds coming in off the sea and up the cliffs. Passed a few minutes there admiring the skills of the ‘pilots’ in handling the aircraft in such testing conditions. By this time the ‘Road Crew’ had erected the finish line barrier for the King of the Mountains competition and the associated barriers.
On returning to the car we ate our picnic and drank our coffee before looking for a suitable location to view the riders. We found a spot about 50 metres before the summit and with a good view down the hill so we could see the riders approaching. There was no pre race caravan such as we saw in the Tour de France to take up the waiting time but the time seemed to go quickly enough.
Eventually the sound of helicopters was to be heard over Sidmouth, always a clue that the race is approaching. Then the police motor bikes started coming through with headlights blazing. There seemed to be almost as many motorbikes as there would be riders. Next race officials cars started coming through and an announcement that there was a breakaway of three riders with a lead of about ten minutes over the chasing group. Soon enough the breakaway came through, preceded and followed by motorbikes with aforesaid headlights, which under the trees made photography pretty much impossible. However you can’t watch the race and take photos so I settled for watching. The chasing group came through and there must have been about thirty riders in that and they came up the climb pretty easily it seemed to me and fairly effortlessly too it has to be said. After another twenty minutes or so the main peloton came through. They obviously were not too bothered about getting a placing as I expect most where there to work for team leaders and had already done their bit and were content just to get to the finish.
After that it was mass exit of spectators and the road crew wasted no time in dismantling the King of the Mountains equipment. We encountered a lot of traffic through the narrow Devonshire lanes as we made our way ‘home’ but it fairly quickly thinned out as people went their separate ways.
Will detail the next stage in the following posting