Tour of Britain flies through Cheshire – Stannard wins on “home roads”
Every year the Tour of Britain, formerly known as the good old ‘Milk Race’, seems to grow and grow, with an ever expanding list of amazing, world-class riders turning up to compete over seven days around the British Isles. It’s no surprise, for those of us in the know, that Cheshire has played host to the race a few times – what with the spectacular scenery and challenging riding there is on offer here.
On Tuesday 6 September, the 2016 edition of the race visited our county once again, and although it didn’t make it quite as far as Chester, it still managed to tick off a fair few towns in the area. The race organisers planned a tough stage beginning in Congleton, which then wound its way around Crewe, Macclesfield (where riders tackled the infamous Cat and Fiddle climb), and finished in Tatton Park.
With Juilan Vermote of Etixx-Quickstep sitting in the leaders jersey at the start of the day, but with only a slim lead on general classification, there was everything to play for in terms of the fight for the yellow jersey. However, in the end, the race was illuminated by action from the breakaway, rather than the battle of the overall lead.
It was a popular victory for the one and only Ian ‘yogi bear’ Stannard, the Team Sky domestique and classics specialist, who calls the roads around Cheshire home now when he is not on duty riding in the Grand Tours in service of Chris Froome. Stannard was in the day’s early break, alongside Kristian House (ONE Pro Cycling), Graham Briggs (JTL Condor) and Matt Cronshaw (Madison Genesis), but decided he fancied his chances with a solo attack with more than 40km of the stage left to go.
Stannard, who is known for his amazing ‘diesel engine’ ability to sit in a big gear and churn through the miles, managed to distance his companions as they passed over the long, but steady climb of the Cat and Fiddle, before powering on on his own to take the victory. The win was made all the more popular, given that it was Stannard’s first in his home national tour.
Speaking after the stage, Stannard said:
“It's a pretty big day for me. I was motivated for this stage because it was pretty much on home roads,I was keen to get away. It's always nice to win from a breakaway and go solo too. I really enjoyed it today. I knew I want to go over the top of the Cat and Fiddle with about five minutes on the peloton, we'd have a chance on the run-in then. I heard it went out but I didn't know much more. I was just happy to be up there. It as special to be racing at home.”
Of course, while we’re delighted to see ‘Yogi’ win the stage, we’re a little bit gutted that he’s basically put every Strava KOM in east Cheshire out of reach of us mere mortals forever! Check out his ridiculous stats on the cycling social network app,.
We’d love to know if you went down to watch the race, see your snaps from the roadside and here your experiences of being on the side of the road as Stannard and co flew by – so get in touch by email, or on social media.