What a fabulous day on Saturday for the Tour Of Britain! The forceourt of Milners was absolutely rammed with like-minded cycling fanatics all vying for a glimpse of Wiggo or Cav as they flew through our little village - and the boys certainly didn’t disappoint.
One of our very loyal customers, Paul Evans, was lucky enough to win Bike Beans fantastic prize of a ride in one of the Madison Genesis team cars during the Stage 7 race and below is the article he wrote for the Guardian - it makes for a great read!
Hope everybody enjoyed the day as much as the Bike Beans team did!
My Day With Team Madison Genesis by Mark Evans
My day with The Tour of Britain started at an overcast and blustery Queens Stand on Epsom Downs. I had been lucky enough to win a place in the Team Madison Genesis support vehicle, thanks to a competition I won through Bike Beans Cycle Cafe.
I met with Kellie the team’s PR representative and was introduced to the driver of my car and some members of the team. When I had arrived there was a lot of interest in the team but the arrival of the Team Sky “Deathstar” had pulled the crowds away.
My stage was spent in a new Volvo XC60 as Volvo Car UK sponsors Team Madison Genesis. Race radio counted down the minutes and our 155km journey to Guildford began. The large crowds around the depart were excited and cheered us on our way.
The crowds continued along the route, Epsom College pupils were showing their support and Epsom High Street was packed with waving onlookers. Into Ashtead and still more people, some waving others enjoying the party atmosphere that Bike Beans and Milner’s had provided.
The race officially started just after we left the village and a breakaway group of riders was quickly established. Team Madison Genesis had intended to have a rider in the break but this plan didn’t come to fruition. The initial excitement in the car dissipated as the team’s chances of making the breakaway disappeared.
Leatherhead and Dorking were crammed with waving, excited spectators who were capturing the moment on their cameras. When we drove through smaller country roads and lanes I was worried that Julian the driver would accidently run over some toes as the crowds were so close to the car. I didn’t need to worry as his driving skills were amazing, one minute crawling at 5 miles an hour up a hill then plummeting down the other side at over 60 in an effort to keep up with the peloton.
In the quieter moments, when other team cars passed by, it was good to hear the friendly banter between teams. Sadly most of what was said is unprintable but it shows The Tour is a tight knit community.
At exactly 2pm the helicopter arrived signalling live television coverage had begun. The noise of the helicopter stayed with us all the way to Guildford along with the constant sounding of the team car horns. It was amazing the reaction we got from the waiting spectators through tooting regularly.
One of the highlights of the day came as we passed through Elstead. A wedding party plus the bride and groom were standing waving at the side of the road; all the team cars wished them a happy future as they drove by.
After watching the local news the night before stage 7 and hearing some negative feelings towards “yet another cycle event in Surrey” I was concerned that support from the people of Surrey on the streets might not be there. I didn’t have a thing to worry about as tens of thousands of people had turned out to support and cheer on the riders. Experiencing that warmth from inside the car was amazing and something that I will never forget.
Mark Cavendish won the stage and Sir Bradley Wiggins has retained the IG Gold Jersey as race leader but my abiding memories will be the excitement I felt at having the opportunity to ride in a support vehicle. I really did feel like a small child waiting for Christmas day. Seeing Guildford High Street packed with people and only a small strip of cobbles to drive along, from the passenger seat of a car is an experience only a lucky few get.
I need to say a huge thank you to Jamie at Bike Beans Cycle Cafe, Steve at Volvo Cars UK, Everyone at Team Madison Genesis (who were so kind and accommodating) and the Epsom Guardian newspaper for putting forward this opportunity. Back to reality tomorrow for stage 8, I’ll be by the side of the road in London, behind the barriers cheering my new favourite team on. Go Team Madison Genesis!
This article first appeared in Epsom Guardian newspaper.