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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'