Yesterday the Dutch cyclist Annemiek Van Vleuten completed a 104km solo breakaway to win the Women’s World Cycling Championship here in Harrogate, Yorkshire.
As far as any of the commentators could tell this was the longest solo breakaway to win a world championship in history, male or female. In fact, for many years it would have been longer than the women’s championship itself.
From a spectators’ point of view this could have been a bore, but she was chased for the whole of the race by the rest of the contenders, never getting much more than 2 minutes lead, so the result was in suspense right until the finishing circuit in Harrogate.
When articles are written about the most astonishing races in in World Champs history I think they can now balance up all the stories of the male pros with at least one female ride that ranks up with them all.
Which is where we were, enjoying the thoroughly unexpected bonus of a dry, sunny day and excellent crowds banked up around the course.
A gentle bike ride from Boroughbridge was made even nicer by the very attractive Nidderdale Greenway which made a traffic free corridor right into town.
Harrogate is a historic spa town that has always enjoyed a considerable prosperity so many of the buildings are large stone edifices and the streets unusually wide boulevards which actually seemed to have the effect of shrinking the scale of riders.
However the final circuit is 14 kilometres of unending ups and downs which created numerous mini-amphitheatres on the corners, bringing the riders closer to the spectators and creating great atmosphere.
Every rider from star to finish was cheered the whole way, but the biggest shout out had to go to Van Vleuten.
And we can count ourselves extraordinarily fortunate to have been there. Welsh comedian Max Boyce best described the way sports events become history with the catch phrase “I know, because I was there”.
Never more true than yesterday and even better to share it with Dad Geoff and brother Trevor.