THE seventh stage of the Tour of Britain whizzed through the streets of Deepcut on Saturday. The Camberley to Brighton leg was the longest stage of the eight at a gruelling 140 miles.
Cyclists started in Park Street at 10am to the excited cheers of a crowd of thousands who transformed the normally quiet Surrey town with their fevered hubbub.
One spectator, who had driven from his Chobham home to soak up the excitement of the start of the race, said: “First it was the Prudential RideLondon event that came to Weybridge and Byfleet in the early summer, and now we have this even bigger race featuring some of the greatest names in cycling bringing excitement to Surrey Heath.
“I don’t cycle any more, but it doesn’t stop me enjoying the sport, and it was good to see Camberley, which I often come to for shopping, bursting with activity.
“And people didn’t just vanish once the riders were out of sight. Most stayed on to continue celebrating – pubs were heaving and I heard at least one band playing live.”
The 100 or so cyclists dashed off in the direction of Crawley Hill, towards Deepcut, with support cars and motorcycle cops in tow, and pedalled their way through the boroughs of Waverley and Guildford on their arduous trek to the coast.
Among the pro cyclists were race leader Alex Dowsett, Mark Cavendish and, of course, Muttonchops himself – Sir Bradley Wiggins. A breakaway group of five riders (Marcin Bialablocki, Kevin Ista, Ignatas Konovalovas, Dylan Van Baarle and Julien Vermote) quickly formed, and by 30 miles were riding with a four-minute advantage.
Vermote went on to win Stage 7 in five hours 12 minutes and 34 seconds, and crossed the finish 23 seconds ahead of Konovalovas and Van Baarle – the latter doing well enough to move into the overall lead.