Crowds line the streets of Nottingham for the Milk Race
Whoosh! A split second and they were off. The elite women’s race had begun. Crowds of people lined the streets of Nottingham yesterday to watch some of the country’s best riders, including Olympian Laura Trott OBE and Katie Archibald, compete in this year’s Milk Race.
As an avid cycling fan, the event is one of the highlights of my year. For one day, roads are closed off, with buses, trams and cars all diverted, and the city swarms with people on two wheels. This is not just an event for pro riders either; earlier in the day people of all ages and abilities, including families, club riders and groups of friends, had cycled the same loop, negotiating the tight corners and soaking up the electric atmosphere.
The original Milk Race, sponsored by the now-defunct Milk Marketing Board, was a British institution, running from 1938 to 1993. Now sponsored by the Dairy Council, the race was revived three years ago by Nottingham City Council – and it has grown bigger each year.
The elite women set off, completing several laps of the circuit before the final five laps of serious racing began. Perhaps what makes the Milk Race such as great event for spectators is that you can watch from different vantage points around the city. Roaring crowds rang their cowbells (of course!) as the cyclists sprinted towards the finish line in Old Market Square. Laura Trott, of Wiggle Honda, clinched victory by the narrowest of margins – I was told it was a mere 3,000th of a second – over Katie Archibald, of Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International. Meanwhile, Katie Curtis, who also rides for Pearl Izumi Sports Tours International, took third place.
After the race had finished we made our way to the race village in the Square before the track was closed once again for the elite men’s race. The village had something for everyone, including the chance to get a milk moustache and a Wattbike challenge for those with a competitive streak.
Taking to the road were riders from the newly-formed Team Wiggins and local heroes Team Raleigh who were battling it out for a podium position. It was difficult to believe how quickly they were riding – just one-and-a-half minutes to complete a lap. The spectators cheered once again as Kristian House, from JLT Condor, beat Team Wiggins’ Andrew Tennant into second place in a nail-biting finish. Ed Clancy, also of JLT Condor, came in third. With trophies duly presented it was all over for another year. And we’re already counting down to 2016.
Picture (c) The Milk Race.