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This week we were lucky enough to have Stage 2 of the Tour of Britain finish in our home town of Kendal. The riders had given their all on the mountainous Cumbrian route, and this showed in their faces as they passed us on the final climb up Beast Banks to the finish line (which the boys had ridden up before school earlier in the day). We were able to witness the excitement of the battle for first place between Julien Vermote and Steve Cummings and the exhaustion of those following in the Peleton, some much the worse for having already tackled Whinlatter Pass and The Struggle.
Being at the end of the stage means you can then head up beyond the finish line to see the team cars and buses. The boys and their friends were keen to catch a glimpse of the riders. It was a maelstrom of activity when we arrived, but it was evident who the main attractions were – Cav and Wiggo. Sadly Cav had just finished his signing session when we got there, but you couldn’t miss where Sir Bradley Wiggins was – the crowd was huge and noisy, desperate for a close up encounter with the titan of British Cycling.
Long after the other riders had disappeared into their team buses for privacy from the crowds and the start of their recovery for the next stage, Wiggo was still out there in front of his team van signing autographs and having selfies taken with his young (and not so young) fans.
When one young fan had nothing for him to sign they showed the presence of mind to suggest he signed their school jumper. Sir Bradley asked with concern whether it was really OK for him to sign a school jumper on the first day of term (spot the dad!) to which the answer was obviously “yes" although I'd have loved to be a fly on the wall at home later that evening!
The scuffle to get near Sir Bradley intensified as it became clear he was starting to edge very slowly towards the door of the team bus, but then one of the boys friend's managed to get close enough in to get the treasured autograph.
In a stroke of genius he then turned around and grapped my boys flags and used his position in front of Sir Bradley to get an autograph for his friends.
Not just once, but twice!!
We returned home very happy, and the flags go on the boys list of treasured possessions obtained from the various races they've seen, including Team GB water bottles from the Energiewacht Tour in Groningen and a musette from the Tour de France.
It would have been understandable if this hadn’t happened. Sir Bradley looked tired - he'd had to push his bike up The Struggle , and finished fifth to last. I wouldn't have blamed him if he'd leapt off his bike, dived into the team bus and closed the doors. The fact that he didn't do this, but smiled for countless selfies and signed hundreds of autographs is one of the many reasons why he’s so popular.
He also brings a breath of fresh air to the proceedings. Whilst all the other teams hunker down in their huge buses, with sponsors logos all over them, Sir Bradley’s team van stands out as being different, with his recognisable mod motif.
It's a motif we can expect to see more of in the coming years. Over the summer, as well as winning his eight Olympic medal with a gold in the team pursuit, Sir Bradley Wiggins also found time to launch a new range of kids road bikes with Halfords, which has the original name of Wiggins Bikes. The range will no doubt inspire many more youngsters to get into cycling, to emulate their hero.
So, thank you Sir Bradley for being so patient and giving your young fans something to cherish, and the inspiration to follow in your tyre tracks.
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