Tour of Britain - Gun Hill

I went to watch the Stoke stage of the Tour of Britain yesterday. The route travels North from Stoke across the Staffordshire moorlands and hits Gun Hill on the outskirts of Congleton. Gun Hill is a 1st category climb so I couldn't resist in taking a day off to go and watch.

I've never watched a major pro road race before, I've only been to town centre crits. As I arrived an hour before they were due it was already busy on the climb with hundreds of people turning out to watch. A couple of lads from the club had ridden out however struck with a bad head cold I decided to drive up.

There was a good atmosphere on the climb with lots of banter, ITV were filming an introduction the hill for later on and Motorpoint took our photo for their website. There was an air of anticipation forming. 15 minutes before the riders arrived it all went very quiet, an eery hush decended over the climb as people stood focussed down the hill: waiting.

Your heartbeat starts getting faster with each police motorcycle that past. The commentator car then pulls up. Over a loud speaker he lets everyone know what is going on. Who is in the break, the time gap and who is chasing. As he finishes you can just make out the helicopter in the distance following the riders. They are coming. You're now fired up but it's still quiet.

You stare down the hill. Every honk and siren could be the leaders coming up. But it's not. The helicopter is now overhead. More police motorbikes shoot by and then suddenly a massive airhorn screams. They are here. The crowd below roars. You then see the first rider bound round the corner and pounce over the top of the climb.

The chase group then turns the corner. You lunge down. Clench your first and tell them to keep going. They are so close to you. You scan as fast as possible trying to make out riders. You grab eye contact with Geraint Thomas and David Millar. Scream at Roger Hammond sliding off the back and within a minute they are gone.

It happens so fast but it is such a thrill. The build up and anticipation is amazing. I just keep imagining how amazing waiting for The Tour must be, sleeping all night, waiting all day for the riders to arrive. If you ever get the chance I would definitely recommend it.

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