For most of the year Epsom is a sleepy little town which only springs to life for the annual Epsom Derby. This year, however, the town hosted its second international sporting event of the year - the Tour of Britain.
The penultimate stage of this year’s Tour went from Epsom to Guildford. As the stage was starting on our doorstep we thought it only reasonable that Team Linkam should be in attendance. So, early Saturday morning Jack Verhoeff and I joined hundreds of other cycle-o-holics at the Historic Queens Stand on the majestic Epsom Downs.
The whole area was a hive of activity, with team buses, support vehicles and minor celebrities all rushing around abuzz with excitement. However, it was still way too early for us Linkamites, we felt that a coffee was in order to get our adreneline perculating for day ahead [espresso of course, in accordance to Rule#56 of the velominati bible].
As we approached the holy grail that is the Costa Coffee van, we were asked by one of the very well mannered stewards if we were competing in the race. Naturally, we answered, “Yes”, but I think our grins and childish giggles gave us away…still, its nice to think we were looking professional enough to be confused with one of Sir Bradley Wiggin’s cohorts.
After our coffee, we headed towards Dorking, a more cycle specific location where we felt there would be a better chance of bumping into a cycling celebrity or two. As we came through the town centre we saw the Rapha supporters club van. Being great fans of the brand we decided to stop for a quick break and were offered free coffee [Rule#56 observed again] a couple of free beers and a pair of team Rapha Condor JLT caps.
Then it was onwards - and very much upwards - to Coldharbour Lane, one of the steeper ascents of the local monster that is Leith Hill. By the time we reached the top we were somewhat out of breath. Along with fifty or so other cycle fans we found a great vantage point on a bank at the top of the climb, settled down and waited for the race.
It wasn’t long before the police outriders started streaming past which meant the riders weren’t far behind. Sure enough, after a few minutes and a whole lot more support vehicles, the breakaway group, followed by the main peloton group, came through. [I was disappointed to see that not one of them looked even remotely out of breath]. With much clapping and shouting of the Linkam cycling mantra, “Go on Mark!” the peloton was gone as quickly as it had arrived.
Brief as it was, it was a fantastic experience to be able to get so close to your heroes doing what they do. Roll on next year when the biggest cycle race in the world comes to the UK - The Tour de France.
Keep up to date with Team Linkam's escapades on twitter @Team_Linkam
(Oh and by the way - a Musette* is an over the shoulder bag that is popular with many competitive cyclists)