It would have taken some sophisticated sound equipment to determine definitively who got the louder cheers – Bradley Wiggins or David Millar. Both were extremely popular.
However, judging by how quickly Cycling Weekly’s staff (no expense spent on a team of attractive marketing models, you’ll note) gave away the face masks depicting the five Brits in the race we can say that Wiggo just shaded it.
Not a scientific survey, of course, but interesting none the less.
It was impressive to note what an eloquent bunch the British professionals are – in contrast to some of their monosyllabic colleagues who would struggle to express coherently that their foot was on fire, even if the flames were licking around their ankles.
All five speak very well when a microphone is shoved in front of their face, which definitely does wonders for the sport’s profile among the masses. No ‘Yeah Brian, I’m as sick as a parrot but over the moon for the boy Fab, y’know’ here.
Spare a thought for Cav though. He crossed the line in The Mall with snot and dribble all over his face, eyes out on stalks, clearly shattered from the experience, and Eurosport’s finish line correspondent – who we shall spare from naming, although she’s a very accomplished rider in her own right and her initials may or may not be ED – was on the case.
“How was that Mark?”
Cavendish replied with a string of grunts and gasps. If Eurosport’s viewers were any the wiser after that, fair play to them.
“So, what about tomorrow then?”
Give the lad a chance! His respiratory system has just been turned inside out.
At least ITV’s Ned Boulting gave Charly Wegelius a few seconds for his lungs to stop burning. “Okay to go live in 30 seconds, yeah Charly?” he said, admittedly not giving Charly a great deal of choice in the matter.
But that’s telly for you. With the internet updating things before they’ve even happened, Live Telly has to raise it’s game. How long before ITV’s Gary Imlach is asked to hire a moped and ride alongside the riders. “So, how’s it going? There’s a corner coming up, can you talk us through it?”
Special Brit Watch mention to Geraint Thomas – the youngest rider in the race but also by far the most relaxed. A million people are about to see you race round London, surely that will faze him? Not in the slightest. When asked by a passing friend how he was feeling he called over: “Yeah, not bad. Could do with a beer though!”
11th Millar at 10sec
45th Thomas at 24sec
69th Cavendish at 29sec
91st Wegelius at 33sec
Well, we half expected a Brit to go on the attack in Kent but who would have thought David Millar would be the one to do it?
Perhaps the smart money would have been on Geraint Thomas getting in the early move but, it transpires, he’s the chief lead-out man for Barloworld’s South African sprinter Robbie Hunter – the man who took such an early flier in Canterbury that he must have thought the finish line was 300 metres closer than it was.
But no. It was Millar who, after a few unsuccessful skirmishes, was the first to make a serious attack in the ‘Jacky Durand’ space on the bill usually reserved for the likes of Agritubel and Bouygues Telecom’s riders.
Millar wanted to repay the faith of the fans who had cheered him so loudly in London – and, with ITV1 giving the race early coverage – get his fizzog on the telly.
Earlier that morning he’d spotted Fabian Cancellara, the yellow jersey holder, and gone to congratulate him while the photographers and cameramen swamped around him. This, I’m told, is known as Oscar Syndrome. Nothing to do with Senor Freire, more a desire for a beaten Oscar shortlistee to get in on the act and be seen to be gracious.
After that Millar went on to grab the first polka-dot jersey of the race. It’s not a prologue win but it’s a memorable reward and makes him the first Brit to wear all three leader’s jerseys in the Tour – yellow, green, white and polka-dot.
Mark Cavendish, who admitted he’d been pedalling on little cushions of air all day, crashed at a very inopportune moment when he clipped a spectator. It was a blow that ruled out any chance of a stage win. According to his diary on The Guardian’s website, he lost his white Oakley glasses in the fall and warned whichever light-fingered fan who picked them up as a souvenir not to visit a bike race wearing them in future. Presumably unless he wants to scrap Cav for them.
Cavendish 186th at 2-45