The Olympic route starts and finishes on the Mall in front of Buckingham Palace, and goes through Richmond Park (fast becoming a favourite) both on exit and entry from London, then does a loop through Surrey. We thought we'd go watch the race from there since we know it well and we predicted there would be a good atmosphere of machacas there.
We caught the train to Richmond in time to watch the peloton come through on their return to the mall; the riders would have about 20km left in the race at that point. A fellow spectator told us that he had watched the riders leave west London earlier in the morning and there had been a breakaway of four riders, about a minute ahead of the peloton, so we were excited to find out how the race would look at this point so close to the finish line.
We knew the riders were nearby when a series of cars and motorbikes came flying past. First was a race radio car with loudspeakers on top. As it went by, it broadcast the current status of the race, so we heard that there were still two men in the breakaway and they were about 20 seconds ahead. Then several police motorbikes came past, from all across the UK, followed by the cars of the race officials and other important figures.
Finally, we saw two riders coming around the curve in front of us. We cheered them on and waited for the peloton which were knew were right behind them (they had even cleared the race vehicles from between them, a sure sign that the peloton were going to catch up any minute now. The peloton flew by, team GB at the front, and it was all over in a few seconds.
|Surprise! Peloton number 2!|
After the excitement of the second peloton, we waited around and watched a few more small groups of riders come around the bend. There was a long gap where no one came past... except for some normal Richmond Park machacas who had somehow managed to get on the road without being stopped by a marshall--the crowd was cheering them on unwittingly! During all this time, the marshals didn't have any more information than the spectators, except they knew that the sweep vehicle had not come past yet. Finally, a marshal somehow heard that there were two riders at the back, who had been involved in a crash. We waited for this last rider, gave him as much encouragement as we could muster, and watched the sweep vehicle come past.
It was more excitement than we had planned for and a lot of fun to watch the pros in action. Although I do hope they sort out the communication with the marshals for the next time around!