Hellos and Goodbyes:
The Tour of Britain 2019

Words and images by Andy Thornley

It was a Tour of hellos and goodbyes as the 2019 Tour of Britain climaxed in Manchester on 14 September.

Saying hello was Mathieu van der Poel who won his first senior stage race in what will surely be a glittering career ahead of him. The Dutchman powered to stage wins in Newcastle, Burton Dasset and Manchester – where he sealed the OVO Energy Green GC jersey to win overall by 17 seconds.

Speaking after the final stage, van der Poel told Simpson that GC wasn’t the original target and he was using the race to prepare for the World Championships in Yorkshire.

“I think I got better every day and that’s kinda what we hoped for” said the 24 year old. “I’m really happy to be getting out of Tour of Britain in this shape; I was aiming for a stage win and it’s been more than that – even winning the GC. It’s been a dream week for me.”

Also saying hello were up to a million spectators according to the organisers, as fans lined the route on each stage. Ben Swift, the Team Ineos rider with the British National Champion’s jersey currently on his back, told us what it was like.

“It’s been brilliant. You always get good support, especially riding for a British team. It’s a jersey that I’ve been chasing for a lot of years and to ride it in your home race adds an extra element.”

Sadly, there were also some goodbyes, with two British domestic teams, Madison Genesis and Wiggins Le Col, both folding at the end of the season. Speaking to Canyon DHB p/b Bloor Homes’ Rory Townsend – winner of the red Eisberg sprints jersey, we asked how important it was that two British teams picked up jerseys against the backdrop of teams closing. 

“I think it’s really important for all the domestic teams. Obviously, this is a race with huge talent with masses of world attraction in terms of people watching and the big teams are here as well and take it very, very seriously.

“So for us as domestic teams it can be pretty difficult for us to get stuff out of the race. But coming here with a distinct target of going for a jersey; getting up in breakaways gives us a realistic goal in which to take something from the race.”

The other Domestic team to win a jersey was Swift Carbon Pro Racing’s Jacob Scott, winner of the Skoda KoM jersey. Scott currently works four days a week in addition to racing and is hoping to secure a full-time pro contract as a result of his efforts.

Also saying goodbye was Mark Renshaw, chief lead-our man for Mark Cavendish. The two had raced together for the best part of a decade and this was the final race the both would cross the finish line together. Earlier on Stage 8, Renshaw was given a bottle hand-up by a very special domestique; his son. Renshaw was clearly emotional and was given a special podium presentation at the close of the stage to salute his career.

Simpson did spy Renshaw chatting to soon-to-be Bahrain Merida DS, Rod Ellingworth outside the Dimension Data bus an hour after the race. With Mark Cavendish rumored to be joining the team next season, perhaps Rod was saying hello to a new member of the coaching staff?