The Olympic cycling road race is one of the open access events. Starting from The Mall in London, the men’s race weaves through South West London into Surrey, passing through Royal Parks, whizzing by historic palaces, looping up iconic hills and then winging its way by Thames Ditton, where I stood to catch a glimpse of the action and cheer on Team GB.
Doing their bit to help Team GB, local children put up signs on the railings.
They also chalked messages on the tarmac to cheer on their heroes.
A local Inn pulled together some passable grub.
There was a real party atmosphere, with Union Jacks fluttering.
The Police outriders heralded the arrival of the cyclists to much cheering from the crowd.
Then the leaders appeared. The crowd screamed and yelled, whistled and clapped.
The noise built as the leaders sped by.
Then the first of the heroes from Team GB appeared and the crowd erupted. Flags were waved and the screams immense, the British riders sat strongly at the front of the chasing pack.
The bulk of the pack followed. Riders from all over the world, proudly representing their countries, peddling for all they were worth, their grit etched in faces. All were cheered through.
The crowd began to thin when the fleet of support cars zoomed down the road.
But a hardy few hung around to cheer through some of the riders who had fallen behind. This cyclist from Argentina was one of the last to come through, but despite being toward the back it was clear he was putting in an Olympian effort and was cheered through by those who remained.
Alas, we know this race ended in disappointment for Team GB. However, it was an amazing day for the crowd and I’d recommend heading down to the women’s road race today (29 July).