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Tour de Great Britain

Alex Riches

With the Tour de France coming to the UK in 2014, here's the low-down on why the British people love cycling so much.

Tour de Great Britain

Get on your bike ... Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France for the Brits    Photo: Brendan Ryan

THE Tour de France is one of the longest bicycle races in the world. It covers more than 2,200 miles as it snakes its way through the French countryside, stopping off in major cities such as Paris. As a result it takes a long time for each competitor to complete it, riding for six hours each day for 21 days. Each day is called a stage, and can range from a sprint through a city centre, or a gruelling trek up a mountain road.

Despite the length of the tour, the sport of cycling is still massively popular in the UK. More than 3.6 million viewers watched the final stage of last year’s tour. As a result of this popularity, the tour organisers have decided to bring the opening stages to the UK. It’s understandable really. I mean, cycling in the typical English weather would make an amazing spectacle, so long as they wear wetsuits...

The route for the 2014 tour was approved late last year, and will see London host the opening stage for the first time since 2007. There will be two more stages in Yorkshire, in the North East of England, before it heads back over to France for the remainder of the race.

With this in mind, it’s probably a good idea to give you a quick heads up about why the Great British public love it so much.

Pride: British people are rather proud. Go down to a local pub in the evening, and there will probably be a group of people talking about our old empire, our royal family, and the strength of our navy. If there is a competitive event, you can bet that we will want to win it, or at least be a part of it. This is true of the Tour de France.

Tradition: The first race started more than 100 years ago in 1902, and ever since then the British competitors have been trying to be the best in the world. That’s probably why you see so many bicycles on the road these days. Practice makes perfect.

Team GB 2012: You really want to know why cycling is so popular in Great Britain? Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Laura Trott beat everyone else at cycling last year at the London 2012 Olympics. The event was a massive success for everyone that competed, especially Team GB as they the cycling team won seven out of 10 cycling medals. This, when coupled with Bradley Wiggins’ win in the Tour de France, explains why our love affair with the bicycle continues to grow.

Hopefully this goes some way to explaining why the Great British public is obsessed with cycling. Better yet, this might have got you in the mood to bring home the Tour de France trophy yourself? Time to get the helmets at the ready...

*Photo by Lisa Larsson (Flickr)

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