Cyclotherapy: 'This year's Tour of Britain will finish in the 2008 European, City of Culture, Liverpool'

A A A

The Tour of Britain came back to central London last weekend, and was once again given the profile and resources that a race of this calibre deserves. Last year had proved nothing short of an embarrassment for the organisers, whose first mistake was to shun the beauty and grandeur of central London for a rather grotty park in south-east London. Last year's opening stage, in Crystal Palace, had more of a feel of a school sports day than a professional cycling event – with no timing clocks on display, no big screens on which to follow the race and, perhaps unsurprisingly, hardly any spectators.

Bad then turned to worse a few days later, when a planning cock-up in the Pennines sent the race through an area that had not been closed off to traffic – forcing the organisers to order the competitors to stop racing until they were back on sealed-off roads. Coming just a couple of months after the Tour de France had started off in our capital, it felt like all the buzz around cycling last summer had been killed off in a single week.

But what a difference a year can make. Having seen Brit Mark Cavendish win a record four stages in this year's Tour de France, followed by incredible success for Great Britain's Olympic cyclists, cycling had begun to feel like the new national sport by the end of August.

And, thank heavens, the opening of this year's Tour of Britain lived up to its billing. Big screens along the river, loud music, live commentary and an excitable crowd all made for a great atmosphere. And while our hero Cavendish sadly decided to pick the Tour of Missouri over his home country's race, there were still plenty of big names in the pack – not least double Olympic gold medal winner Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, also a winner of gold in Beijing.

Sadly, there weren't perhaps as many spectators at the event as there might have been. Last summer, when the Tour de France came to town, there was not an inch of safety rail without a spectator leaning over it. Although the start and finish line were pretty well populated at last weekend's Tour of Britain, much of the course attracted only a smattering of supporters.

Still, the British aren't necessarily going to fall in love with cycling overnight – and compared with last year, there must have been at least 20 times as many spectators.

Although this year's Tour will finish in the 2008 European City of Culture, Liverpool, on Sunday, the organisers have committed to ending the race in central London for the next three years. With a bit more promotion, and perhaps some better weather next time, I could see it becoming an institution.

This kind of event does wonders for encouraging people to get out on their bikes in Britain. It's great that it's now getting the backing and profile it deserves.

cycling@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Jodie Stimpson crosses the finishing line to win gold in the women's triathlon
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning