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Tour of Britain 2016 - Behind the scenes

Former professional, UK cycling legend and now Assistant Manager for the JLT Condor team, Dean Downing writes exclusively for Leigh Day, giving his views on this year's Tour of Britain.

The Tour of Britain now sits in a perfect spot in the UCI race calendar to attract the world’s best riders and four weeks before the World Road Race Championships, which will take place in Qatar this year from October 9th.

Having ridden the event 4 times in the past 12 editions, this year I moved onto the other side as a Guest Driver for British Cycling.

Each day we had a competition winner and their guest in the car. I don't know who was the luckiest, the competition winner or the friend for getting the invite from the winner.

The idea of the competition was to give a behind the scenes experience that money couldn't buy. Each stage started with a stay over at the Tour of Britain HQ hotel.

A couple of times the guests were lucky enough to see Team Sky, JLT Condor, BMC, Lotto Soudal to name but a few teams, all chilling out in the evening during dinner and after dinner in the bar. All drinking water I must add!

We managed to catch up with a few of my friends on the different teams and we were able to watch the mechanics doing their essential work after and before each stage.

The Team Sky mechanics were great. Access all areas on the Team Sky mechanics truck was a definite highlight for a couple of those lucky to win access.

In the morning we headed to the start town, where the guests enjoyed hospitality from the organisers, Sweetspot and an added bonus of a driver safety meeting led by Andy Hawes and Duncan Street, sergeant in charge of Police bikes.

This may sound a little boring, but talking about the things coming up on each stage gave Guests a real behind the scenes insight into the other side of a bike race, how safe the riders and staff on each stage have to be.

Next up each day was the fun part for me, and it produced quite a few top pictures, some for the guests and also for the BC staff, Grace and Josh, who I was working alongside. Cycling Selfie time.

I've been lucky enough to race with many of the riders on this year’s Tour of Britain start list, so my job was to go and chat with my mates, easy. We got pics with, Cavendish, Cummings, Wiggo, Dennis, Griepel and this was just for the BC staff.

Five minutes before race depart we were off on race route and waited for the break to go up the road.

A couple of days it took over 40 km to spilt, but when it did split we then had the chance to pull over, wait for the break away to pass and then we were behind the breakaway.

Most breaks in this year’s Tour of Britain were four or so riders, so the guests got to see how well they were riding together, how fast they rode, uphill and downhill and of course thy got to see how big the crowds are out on course these days.

Some of the King of the Mountain's were insane, with crowds so dense that there was just enough room for a couple of riders to get through. After a few times passing the breakaway riders, safety first obviously, we were off to the finish to enjoy the hospitality again and watch the last 20km or so on the big screen.

On arrival, competition winners got the cherry on the cake of each day’s experience when they were invited onto the podium to hand out a prize to one of the day’s winners.
The day we did some filming the comp winner spoke to Steve Cumming at the start, took some great pics of him on the side of the road during the stage and then presented him with a keg of beer on the podium. I think John had a top day out.

This Tour of Britain was the best yet, a Massive success for everyone involved with a British Rider winning overall and each and every British Cycling member who was on each stage enjoyed themselves. I know I did.

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