The Tour of Britain rolled into Brighton yesterday and although thousands turned out to watch, it was still possible to get incredibly close to the riders – so much so that one local club rider was overheard saying incredulously: “I just touched Kittel!” as he vigorously rubbed his own legs, hoping that he might somehow absorb a fraction of the sprinter’s awesome power. We positioned ourselves at the top of Bear Road, the final climb of a tough day. We figured that the riders would be suffering after more than 130 miles of racing, including two category 1 climbs within 10 miles of each other. And we knew that Bear Road kicks like a mule into a 10-11% top section for a couple of hundred metres. We were expecting to see a lot of pain and we weren’t disappointed. The effort was etched onto every face that passed within inches of us towards the final push for the finish line. It was a vivid and thrilling reminder of the extraordinary physical hardship pro riders put themselves through. Early yesterday morning as we cycled through sunny Sussex lanes for the final 40 miles of stage seven, watching the first spectators position themselves at key vantage points, seeing the graffiti on the roads, and the bunting on the village pubs, it struck us yet again how far cycling has come in the UK over the past few years. These are good times for British cycling fans.