It’s jolly good to be back at the Tour de of Britain after two years. I had a smashing time riding for, and alongside, Bradley Wiggins-Sir in the 2015 race and after taking some time out of the sport to do some research for a book I will be bringing out with someone going by the name of Bikegob Glasgow I thought it was time to get back to racing and get back to the Tour.
But crikey! I nearly never got here at all! The chaps I ride for, TEAM wiggins, have been in a competition this year between six British teams to qualify for the tournament, with only four going through (Team Skye had already gained a spot as top seeds). Me and the rest of the TEAM wiggins riders found the going tough in the qualifying races. We had lost some of our best riders, including Mr Wiggins-Sir at the end of last season and I thought at times that perhaps we weren’t able to handle the pressure. And blimey there was a lot of pressure! Entry to the Tour de of Britain was the top objective of the year for the team. If I won the final qualifying race we would have got there but I didn’t. I felt I let the team down, I was in great shape, the other riders rode well, the support staff looked after me well, they even kept asking me if I was absolutely sure that I didn’t have hay fever. But forget about them, I have made it to the race after being selected to ride for the United Kingdoms of Great Britain team.
The whole thing kicked off today in Edinburgh which is the second largest city in Scotland behind the countries capital Glasgow. And crikey! the starting point was outside my namesake, St Giles Cathedral! Seriously though, we went along the royal mile, Scottish for royal kilometer, out of Edinburgh and down towards the boarders and eventually ended up in Kelso beside another religious erection, Kelso Abbey. There were three KOM climbs along the route including the feared Dingleton known as ‘The Severe Judge Of The Boarders’. The last time the race had a stage finish in the town two years ago we ended up outside Floors Castle who now co-sponsor the Quick-Step team.
One of the best things about riding in the Tour de of Britain is getting to meet some of the worlds top riders. I was able to chat to the Polish rider who’s name is Michał Kwiatkowski. The super-domestique has recently helped Team Skye to successfully defend the Tour de France so I was expecting to find him in fine fettle but his mood was rather morose. During our chin-wag he explained to me that while he has had a great summer his mind is occupied with the coming spring where his team will force him to win some of the most prestigious one day races in the world.
Caleb Ewan of Austria won the stage and leads the Oxo Tour de of Britain.