There’s something really fun about seeing the pros race along your local roads. Not just the ‘within general local area’ roads, but barreling specifically down your beloved, unassuming and deserted little country lanes. The ones that you can take inch-perfect mental fly-bys through while plotting your weekend rides from the confines of the dragging, desk-bound afternoons in the office.
The ones that may as well be on the moon for 95% of the town’s population who, despite it being a mere 20km from their front door, will never swoop down that lightening quick false flat and know the exact point to then click deftly through the gears as you corner into the short, sharp rise that lies hidden behind that 90 degree hedgerow trap like a jack-in-the-box waiting to pounce on those still in the big-ring…
Watching with an expert’s eye as World Champ stripes and flouro exotica dodge bedevilling potholes and gravel pile wash-out spots that you can avoid with your eyes closed. The chain-rattling broken surfaces that claim an uninitiated victim under the mocking glare of soaring cathedral towers on the off-camber market-town twitches.
Shouting at the TV screen for them to take that obvious right turn down a hidden, to-die-for country-mile gem that you know they’d just love, despairing at the Race Director’s criminal ignorance of what you know would make for the perfect race moment.
The joy as Mssr Director redeems himself – What a Masterstroke! Taking them off of the mainstream, A-road route and down past that fantastic little whistle-stop pub and into the heart of your weekend playground.
Ah yes – these everyday landmarks will now forever be the ‘Corner in S’th’ell Where the An-Post Guy Stacked It’, the ‘Criminally Overlooked Greaves Lane’ and ‘That Great Stretch of Big-Ring Burn-Up Towards Kirklington that Mark McNally Powered Along in the Break’ during the 4th stage of the 2017 Tour of Britain…
Andrew Greenstreet got his mustard yellow Fiat 500 fired up and his race-chase mojo on and stalked the peloton as it snaked around our rolling North Notts roads. Pics and below account are used with his kind permissions.
“September sees the Tour of Britain speeding through the length of the country and, on a gloomy looking Wednesday morning, the Nottinghamshire countryside held host to the race. Starting off in the old market town of Mansfield, the team’s echelons packed the tight confines of the market square giving the fans an up close experience you rarely get in professional sport.
With the excited crowds bustling for a view and maybe an autograph from a Mark Cavandish, Geraint Thomas or a Tony Martin, to name but a few of the cycling stars on show, the atmosphere was electric. Honking air horns, clacker boards and bang-bang sticks rose to a crescendo, greeting the riders like gladiators as they signed on and were introduced to the crowd.
With riders, bikes and teams ready, the expectant throng was primed for the flag to be dropped and then off we raced. The Tour was winding its way down towards Newstead Abbey then up through Worksop to Retford and down again to the final destination of today’s stage, the Historic Civil War Town of Newark-on-Trent. With best laid plans off we set, the route and timings set for where we’d meet the peloton. First stop was the village of Edingley: fully decked out with a yellow bikes at every lamp post, colourful bunting hanging off every hedge and a good gathering along the roadside.
An early breakaway was met by local cyclists waving their pie and pints outside The Old Reindeer pub as the race dashed on towards their first watering station in Southwell. Now this is where plans and cycle races fall foul as we jumped back into car to head for the first of the intermediate sprints. It was always going to be a push to get there, cutting through the narrow lanes, but the rolling road block stopped us in our tracks. With luck, however, seemingly on our side, it turned out to be a good spot; on a slight incline as the sky’s briefly opened to remind everyone this was Britain. The chasing cycle club crowd’s spirits, now emboldened with pastry and beer, were not even slightly dampened, shouting and whooping as riders pulled on rain capes.
Looking at the timings on the schedule and gauging the speed of the peloton the decision was made to head straight the King of the Mountain segment on Eaton Wood. The gathering of people there was amazing: all the way up the hill with cow bells and clackers – anything to make a royal racket as the race passed by. With police sirens approaching from the distance, the furore was palpable from the hundreds of assembled spectators. The four man break still had a reasonable lead going up the hill but the main peloton was hot on its heels as we headed towards the finish. This is where the luck ran out. The schedule had be blown apart by a bike race determined to beat me to the line and, despite my sprinting the last one and a half kilometres, the Tour of Britain Stage Four was over with me 100 metres short. The fat lady in my head was in full voice.
With presentations done (seeing the jersey swapping hands for the next stage) we are left feeling satisfied that our county Nottinghamshire and its people have done us proud”