Tour of Britain Cycle Race 2011
There was a palpable sense of excitement amongst the spectators lining the Tour route through Thorndon on an increasingly chilly Saturday 17 September.
For several weeks, the publicity and TV coverage for the event had been mounting and for this, the penultimate and longest stage of the race, Thorndon was well prepared.
Residents and friends, old and young, standing and seated, they were all out ready to cheer these top-flight international athletes as they sped past.
First up though was an endless procession of police motorcycles from all over the country, performing a very well-choreographed exercise in blocking off all the side roads. Not the most arduous of duties — a bit of a fun day out really — with plenty of opportunity to give their sirens a workout. ‘Are we in Yorkshire yet?’, quipped one.
Next up were some of the support vehicles, sporting their teams’ colours and the sponsors’ logos, bearing registration plates from all over Europe.
Eventually, a course marshall’s vehicle came through announcing that a breakaway group of six riders had carved out a six and a half minute lead and were on their way from Debenham.
Finally, preceded by yet more flashing blue lights and headlights, the leading group could be seen approaching down along the gradient from the church. A tightly packed group of six, travelling at 30+miles per hour, doesn’t take long to pass by, but they got the cheers they deserved.
Just what a lead they had built up dawned on everyone as the next six and a half minutes ticked by. Then the main pack (‘peloton’ to those in the know) were suddenly coming through. Riding wheel to wheel, some even having a chat, they made an impressive sight (and sound — the swishing of tyres and whirring of chains over gears) and got the full Thorndon welcome.
Reports suggested there was a considerable gathering of spectators at the crossroads to witness the sharp right turn into Clint Road, but thankfully all the riders made it through without incident and continued on their way to Sandringham.
Unfortunately, there was no mention of Thorndon on that night’s recorded highlights, which seemed to suggest that Victoria Road, Diss was not far outside Debenham!
Nevertheless, it was a great day our village and thoroughly enjoyed by all who were fortunate enough to see it.