On Saturday I enjoyed watching the Women’s Cycling Tour, which ended at Welwyn Garden City. The tour was not covered in the media, which was a great shame, but despite the heavy rain, it was well supported in Hertfordshire, with world class cyclists being reportedly ‘overwhelmed’ by the enthusiasm and support for their sport. Local girls Emma and Laura Trott – who trained at the Welwyn Wheelers cycle club in the town, were obvious draws for the crowds, but wisely, the town created a festival feel, and hundreds of people were there.
There was a French Market selling hot take away food as well as fresh produce, a large marquee with a variety of local organisations who promote health and well-being. It was great to see Creative Hertfordshire making their presence known alongside organisations promoting walking as good exercise.
In addition to this, staging was erected for local young talent to perform in front of the crowd. This is how talent is nurtured and what a great place to perform!
As to the race, spectators could watch the riders cross the finishing line. The sight lines weren’t too good. I suspect limited funds prevented there being screens for people to see the action. Hopefully this wonderful event will gather momentum for next year and pick up more sponsorship. As the area was quite limited, with pedestrian bottle necks and flat land, sight lines were difficult for most people.
Also the event was ‘compared’ by someone that, um, wasn’t very effective. I wasn’t sure if he was trying to be a crowd warm up act or a commentator, but neither role was delivered or received well. Casting this role needs more consideration for next year.
Overall I was very proud to be there, supporting world class sportswomen who don’t have the coverage or recognition they deserve. Welwyn Garden City had a great boost and there was a real buzz (despite the heavy rain). I stood next to a Welwyn Wheelers veteran who was animated when the riders were given their prizes. But the most profound moment for me was when I observed 4 girls, who are Welwyn Wheelers’ cyclists. They were on the stage for the prize winners, and afterwards someone asked “How was that?”. “OMG, it was awesome!” replied the girl. I remember Laura Trott recalling how meeting Victoria Pendleton as a school girl was such a motivating moment in her career. Possibly I saw a future Gold medallist who was inspired to keep training!