Tour of Britain Cycle Race

Catherine Hamilton-Veal  ©

Dawlish, United Kingdom

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I took this today in my home town of Dawlish Devon. UK.The Tour of Britain is a cycle race, conducted over several stages, in which participants race from place to place across parts of Great Britain. This was stage four.
The event dates back to the first British stage races held just after the Second World War, since when various events have been described as the Tour of Britain, including the Milk Race, the Kellogg’s Tour of Britain and the PruTour. The current version of the Tour of Britain is part of the UCI Europe Tour. In 2009 The Prostate Cancer Charity became the Official Charity Partner and together are now offering the general public an opportunity to get involved via the Tour Rides.
The Tour of Britain, known for many years as the Milk Race, has its origins in a dispute between cyclists during the Second World War. The British administrative body, the National Cyclists’ Union (NCU), had feared since the 19th century that massed racing on the roads would endanger all racing, including early-morning time trials and, originally, the very place of cyclists on the road.
A race organised from Llangollen to Wolverhampton on 7 June 1942, in defiance of the NCU, led to its organisers and riders being banned. They formed a new body, the British League of Racing Cyclists (BLRC), which wanted not only massed racing but a British version of the Tour de France.
The first stage, or multi-day, race in Britain was the Southern Grand Prix in Kent in August 1944. It was won by Les Plume of Manchester; the first stage was won by Percy Stallard, the organiser of the Llangollen-Wolverhampton race in 1942.
The experience encouraged the BLRC to run a bigger race, the Victory Cycling Marathon, to celebrate the end of the war in 1945. It ran from Brighton to Glasgow in five stages and was won by Robert Batot of France, with Frenchmen in six places in the top 10, winners of the mountains competition and best team.
Chas Messenger, a BLRC official and historian, said: "No one had ever put on a stage race in this country, other than the Southern Grand Prix, and even fewer people had even seen one. So raw were they that Jimmy Kain (the organiser) even wrote to the Auto-Cycle Union — the body for motorcycle racing - and the flags used by them were taken as a guide to what was needed.4 Kain recalled the precarious budget: “£44 entry fees and £130 of my own money and £16 when I went round with the hat after the Bradford stage.”
The writer Roger St Pierre said:
“It was reported that 20,000 watched the start but I’ve seen a picture which would indicate it was probably three or four times that number. What outsiders didn’t see though was just what a ramshackle affair it all was, with riders finishing stages often miles longer than billed then having to find a bed for the night – with the poorer riders ending up spending the night huddled in barns, haylofts or even under the hedgerows.”The BLRC was not recognised by the world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale and so it recruited its French riders from another rebel organisation, the communist Fédération Sportive et Gymnastique du Travail, using French café-owners in Soho, London, as their link.
Edited in CS3 and finished off in Picasa 3 FREE DOWNLOAD
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