On Sunday the 10th of September 2017, the OVO Energy Tour of Britain came to Wales. Stage 8, from Worcester to Cardiff, was the final stage of the race this year.
The stage travelled down towards Wales, before making its way past Newport and on into Cardiff. The riders then had to negotiate 3 laps of a 7km circuit in Cardiff, in a criterium-esque final to the race. Big names from Caleb Ewan (Orica Scott) and Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) to Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) battled to gain points as the race came to a close.
The race was action-packed from start to finish, with Dimension Data’s Edvald Boasson Hagen taking the victory after a sprint to the line. Despite his breakaway from the other riders in the final 3km in Cardiff, Boasson Hagen had to settle for second overall in the final race standings, eight seconds down on Lars Boom of Lotto NL Jumbo, who came away the winner of the 2017 Tour. Despite the weather giving the riders a typical Welsh welcome, spirits were high in Cardiff.
Sponsors of the race, from Oakley to High5 Sports Nutrition and Wiggle hosted an event village in front of the National Museum and City Hall, with stands from OVO Energy, Skoda and others bringing entertainment and, perhaps more importantly, freebies!
Cycling is one of those sports that is different to any other. At a football match, the teams leave the pitch, get changed and leave on a bus. At cycling races, the riders mill in out of the crowds outside of their team buses, allowing fans to get up close and personal with their favourite teams and riders. The whole atmosphere is different, something which was more than apparent in Cardiff. Teams were quite literally throwing boxes of unused cycling bottles, protein shakes, food, bags and all manner of other freebies outside of the buses, for fans to take at will.
The connection between fans and riders is something that I’ve never experienced at any other sporting event and one that I hope to experience again soon.
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