This year's Aviva Women's Tour was nothing short of spectacular. I worked the event as a videographer for the organisers, and here's a selection of images & stories that hopefully capture the experience of a special week.
Melissa Hoskins looks across at her Orica teammates at sign on for the final stage. Normally a sprinter, Hoskins unexpectedly found herself wearing the Strava Queen Of The Mountain polka dot jersey, something she admits getting attached to as the days rolled on. Despite this individual accolade, without her team's support she wouldn't have walked away from the event a proud owner of the polka dots.
Hannah Barnes is just 22, but she has a bright future ahead of her. The Women's Tour almost felt like a return to the sport supporting highs of London 2012, and Barnes was a clear fan favourite. No one was cheered louder, and after winning both the Premier Inn's Best British Rider and SweetSpot's Best Young Rider jerseys along with a victory in the final stage, landing Barnes 5th overall, the noise on the podium was deafening. Not only did this lady show off tremendous talent, but also her human side. She always had time for fans & was surrounded by friends & family for every stage.
One of my personal tour highlights was the range of the country the tour brought us through. From built up town centres to idyllic seaside spots. We had one day of rain, but as Australian Carlee Taylor of Lotto Soudal Ladies commented "I was beginning to wonder what you were all complaining about!" as the three days of glorious sun broke into what felt more like a British November evening. Still, it gave the women a full taste of the English weather as well as every road & street imaginable.
JUST GREAT FUN
No child wasn't smiling, no adult wasn't excited. The crowds cheered, roared & banged on the boards until they had nothing left, and the riders took each quirk in their stride, often seemingly total overwhelmed at the support. This tour was an awesome amount of fun off the roads, but on the roads it was a different story...
I'm not a fanatical cycling fan. In fact before this tour the London 2012 time trial & road race were the only biking events I had attended. I'm a content creator who happened to be caught up in a cycling race. It's hard not to draw comparisons with riding into battle or get caught up in the hunt and chase. Each morning riders rode away from a town, gleaming row by row in the summer's sun, to battle it out on the roads and arrive hours later in a new town battered, bruised, beaten but ready to do it all again the next day.
Lisa Brennauer took the yellow jersey on the first day after stage one winner Lizzy Armistead pulled out following a nasty finish line crash. She said it was weird to wear it the next day feeling she hadn't earned it fairly. Ned Boulton commented that he couldn't think of a time it had happened before, the yellow jersey holder be injured between crossing the line and the next day's race. The following day doubt was erased as Brennauer then took the second stage & stood on the podium having fairly & squarely earned the yellow. This was how the week ended. Brennauer didn't win another stage, but she refused to let the yellow jersey out of her sight, and finished each event fighting to keep it. She lost it for a single stage, but reclaimed it and triumphantly rode it into the finish.
To win this tour means a lot to me and it is really a great victory and it ranks really really high in my career
All in all it was a wonderful event and a pleasure to be able to get the access I did. I could list all the people I personally need to thank and that deserve thanks for the incredible work that went on behind the scenes to make this event what it was; so instead I'll thank everyone. If you rode, worked or turned out to clap a rider down a street, thank you for making the 2015 Aviva Women's Tour something special.
See you all next year.