On Sunday, at the fifth and final stage of the Women’s Tour of Britain we were lucky enough to spend a little extra time with the Boels-Dolmans team. Going into the final stage Lizzie was already wearing the leader’s jersey. It’s a home race, and she’s a national hero, the nerves at the start were palpable: the goal of the day was clear: hold the jersey, win the overall. A five day race isn’t like the Tour de France where the procession on the last day is really a parade. All was still up for grabs. We hopped in the camper van to head from the start to the finish. An injured Christine Majerus sat shotgun on the journey. She won the opening stage of the race but sadly crashed out on stage 4. Alas her spirits were high on the bus, as she marvelled at small town England, mainly things like a cafe called “The Department of Meat and Social Affairs.” “Leave the social affairs out of it” she commented. “I’ll just take the meat.”
She jumped to their soigneur (known as Smiley)’s aid when some renegade road cones blocked their path. No injury can get the best of her. It’s a sign of a team player on and off the bike. They decided together that moving the cones was a better idea than driving up the wrong side of the road off the roundabout.
The camper is a home away from home. Spare helmets and kit are only one thing, all the personal effects, and creature comforts live within the safe enclave as well. A spare leader’s jersey sits next to a gift of art. A local artist, and friend of the Barnes Family (Hannah and Alice) brought some of her craft to the team in the morning. Throughout the week Lizzie Armitstead and Nikki Harris had amazing support and fans, family and more as public cheered for their local heroes. Sitting in the camper we got so many smiles and waves as we passed fans on the side of the road.We arrived at the finish with enough time to grab a bite to eat before the race finished. The team and Lizzie held the overall win, and spirits were high as the girls rolled back to the bus. Many teams peeled out quickly, preparing for inevitable traffic on the way to airports, but the Boels Dolmans’ riders took their time, celebrating their victory, a successful week for the World Champ on home grounds.