Published: 28 July 2012
Blogger: Gavin Hughes
Image: PA Wire
Gavin takes a break from his gruelling sportive calendar to act as 'Surrey Ambassador' at the Olympic Road Race.
All of a sudden night became day. The arrival to these shores of the maillot jaune - triggered the long awaited arrival of the soleil jeaune. Not to mention the flame. The Olympics are here. Poor Brad - no time for a post race pint and a celebration in Paris. Back to the UK for him and preparation for the opening day's Road Race and the following Time Trial.
On a less glamorous note - I have spent my spare time preparing for the duties required as a "Surrey Ambassador". This is a voluntary post that requires me to meet and greet spectators of the Road Races to the Surrey area, ensuring that they know where to go to view the race, get refreshments and provide general orientation and information about the local area and road race.
I am to be stationed at Leatherhead - which will be the first town the riders pass through after exiting the Box Hill loop. Hopefully - the nine-times circuit of Box Hill will have fashioned a brave breakaway - a chasing pack and a group of poor souls spat out the back to follow. And let's not tempt fate as to what the outcome will be on the opening day, but I think we all know that you-know-who will be fired up the Mall for our first Gold.
But if Saturday sees the fly-by of the World Champion and the recent Tour de France winner, let us not forget the Women's Road race on the following day. If the Men's race were a script - all the players know their lines, deliver them perfectly and - let's hope - deal with any unruly, spontaneous heckling with the same devastating put-downs that the peleton were treated to in the Tour. However, if you like your entertainment more ad-lib, off the cuff, live and unscripted - then Sunday is the race to watch. Lizzie Armitstead and Nicole Cooke - who have had more than enough Soap Opera plots written for them over the last year - will keep the audience guessing - until the final credits begin to roll. And if it were to be scripted - then maybe they cross the Golden line arm in arm - to close to call - and a joint first place podium position.
And for the people who turn up to Leatherhead on the Saturday - I will not only be directing them to the best vantage points - but also mentioning that there will be an equally compelling drama unfolding on the same roads the day following and doing my utmost to ensure that there are as many people witnessing both compelling episodes.
On the ACT I Etape of 2012 - 6% of participants were women - vast room for improvement, and certainly the female only sportives and cyclettas that are being organised are a step in the right direction. Let's hope Sunday will further raise the profile of cycling and encourage more women to emulate Nicole or Lizzie as there are men aspiring to be Brad and Cav. Let the games begin!