We ride the Cheltenham finish of the Ovo Energy Tour of Britain

This gives you just an inkling of an idea of what the professional riding the OVO Energy Tour of Britain will see when they approach Cheltenham on Saturday.

Our reporter rode to Winchcombe to ride the last 10 miles in to Cheltenham

Of course it will be on closed, traffic-free roads (apart from the team cars, the service cars, the police cars and bikes, the race organisers’ cars, the camera bikes and the TV helicopter hovering noisily overhead), and there’ll be more than 100 cyclists and they’ll be going much faster than our rider did. With crowds lining the roads.

They’ll also have ridden much further to get to the foot of Cleve Hill, 173 kilometres (107 miles) from the start of Saturday’s Stage Seven in Hemel Hempstead.

The scenery ascending Cleeve Hill
The scenery ascending Cleeve Hill

This year’s Tour is one of the flatter and sprintier of recent years – deliberately so, giving riders like Mark Cavendish, Elia Viviani and Alexander Kristoff a chance to enjoy fast finishes and to tune up before the World Championships in Bergen Norway later this month.

Nearly at the end of the toughest climb of the stage
Nearly at the end of the toughest climb of the stage

But the stage finishing in Cheltenham is one of the hillier in this year’s race. By the time they get to the foot of Cleeve hill the riders will have raced up two King of the Mountains hills, Brill Hill in Oxfordshire and Bourton-on-the-Hill in Oxfordshire, and also made three intermediate sprints at Bourton-on-the-Water, Moreton-in-Marsh and Winchcombe.

Cleeve Hill is the hardest of the day’s climbs and coming just 10 miles before the finish in Cheltenham it may well break the race up – climbers who are looking for points in the King of the Mountains competition will try and be first to the top, and if they get away from the pack, they’ll want to hold on to their advantage to the line in Imperial Square.

The descent down Cleeve and through Southam will be distinctly rapid
The descent down Cleeve and through Southam will be distinctly rapid

But from the Golf Course lay-by at the top of the hill, it’s a very fast run in; a teeth-rattling descent to the Southam turn (which may be a bit hairy at that speed even on closed roads) down to Bishop’s Cleeve and a straight run in past the race course into Cheltenham.

That will give sprinters’ teams a good chance to get organised for a mass gallop, with only the double 90 degree turns at Pittville Street and Boots Corner to slow them down.

Pittville Park will be full of families taking part in the Cheltenham Festival of Cycling
Pittville Park will be full of families taking part in the Cheltenham Festival of Cycling

It’s going to make for great, extremely rapid and exciting racing. And even in the midst of that, the riders might have a chance to appreciate the wonderful Gloucestershire scenery and the beautiful run in to Cheltenham.

The finish line in Imperial Square - just opposite the Holst statue
The finish line in Imperial Square – just opposite the Holst statue

There will be plenty to do in Cheltenham on Saturday while you’re awaiting the race finish, with big screens in Pittville Park and by Neptune’s Fountain showing the entirety of the race, as well as loads of activities and stalls organised by Cheltenham Borough Council.

Get details of everything that’s going on in the Bloor Homes Cheltenham Festival of Cycling, and all the news from the OVO Energy Tour of Britain at GloucestershireLive.co.uk

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