Crowds cheered as the pelo­ton came to Kent

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - A Decade On From Le Tour -

It is 10 years since thou­sands of people lined the streets of Kent to watch and cheer as the Tour de France passed through the county. On Sun­day, July 8, 2007, the world’s top cy­clists raced from Green­wich to Can­ter­bury, in­clud­ing King of the Moun­tain sec­tions at South­bor­ough, Goud­hurst and Farthing Com­mon, north of Folke­stone.

The route passed through Dart­ford, Gravesend, Rochester, Maid­stone, Ton­bridge, Tun­bridge Wells, Ten­ter­den and Ash­ford be­fore the fin­ish.

A Tour tra­di­tion, the pub­lic­ity car­a­van that pre­cedes the race also proved a hit with spec­ta­tors, as gi­ant floats car­ried people in fancy dress hand­ing out gifts.

It was the first rac­ing stage of that year’s Tour, with the pro­logue time trial held in Lon­don the pre­vi­ous day.

Among the rid­ers in the lineup for the Lon­don to Can­ter­bury stage was Bradley Wig­gins – now Sir Bradley – who be­came Bri­tain’s first Tour win­ner in 2012.

Then rac­ing for the French team Cofidis – sev­eral years be­fore the for­ma­tion of Team Sky – Wig­gins was al­ready well­known as an Olympic gold medal­list.

Fu­ture world cham­pion Mark Cavendish was also in the field and hop­ing for his first Tour de

France stage vic­tory in Can­ter­bury.

But he suf­fered me­chan­i­cal prob­lems – as well as ob­struc­tion from a fan – and missed the sprint fin­ish, which was won by Aus­tralian Rob­bie McEwen.

The fol­low­ing year, Cavendish kicked off his string of 30 stage wins in the Tour.

That year’s race later be­came mired in dop­ing con­tro­versy, as three rid­ers and two teams were with­drawn fol­low­ing pos­i­tive tests.

The over­all win­ner was Span­ish rider Alberto Con­ta­dor.

Pic­ture: Andy Pay­ton

Bradley Wig­gins (front red jersey) in the pelo­ton when the 2007 Tour de France came to Kent; Wig­gins would go on to win the race in 2012 – be­com­ing Bri­tain’s first-ever tour win­ner

Pic­ture: John Westhrop

The main group at­tack Goud­hurst hill

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