Between 1958 and 1993, The Milk Race was the most prestigious cycling event in the British calendar, and the (now disbanded) Milk Marketing Board’s sponsorship remains the longest association that the sport has ever had. Many of you will remember these city and town centre races fondly, this was my turn to see the action and enjoy the spirit of the Milk Race. It might be a new start but, the organisers are trying to bring the old appeal to a new and audience, young, old, old time fans and new alike. For England these events are going to bring the sport to life and the cities and towns they visit. Long live the Milk Race!
The old Milk Race was a multistage race across the England and one of many of the guises of what is now the Tour of Britain. The race ran over a few days across different locations in England. It was contested by some of the most successful cyclists ever and attracted crowds from miles around to get involved in the action.
The main races in the UK calender are the Tour of Britain and the Tour Series. Both of which are popular with the public in there own way but neither of the races are as unique or attract such a varied audience than the Milk Race. Hopefully more town centres and sponsors will get involved to continue supporting the event. It seems silly not to capitalize on the cycling boom created by our successful cyclists last year. First British Tour de France win, many cycling monuments smashed, countless gold medals won and many world records set. If this is not time for the return of The Milk Race, I don’t what is!
Previous winners include, Malcolm Elliott, the team manager of the Node4-Giordana (Node4-Giordana were racing at the Milk Race) and Shane Sutton who is now a coach for British Cycling. Shane coaches and works with the cyclists whose incredible achievements in 2012 inspired the relaunch of The Milk Race.
2013, 20 years on and Nottingham was chosen for the relaunch. The race immediately attracted olympic gold medalist Steven Burke, who was first to sign up the race. Soon after, it was announced that fellow gold medalists, Dani King and Ed Clancy were to race. I[Jamie] could not pass up the opportunity to attend such a revival. The race was cancelled before I was aware of what a bicycle was and eager to experience the spectacle for myself.
The route was a 1.2km closed-road circuit around the city centre and surrounding the historic Old Market Square which had been transformed into a Milk Race Village. The Village was full of stalls, showcasing the wonders of milk and dairy products and why they are important as part of any diet. Also explaining the connection between sports and milk.
There was a team of roaming volunteers on the day painting “Milk Tasches” onto willing crowd members. All of this, along with a very friendly team of hosts just adds to general appeal of the Milk Race. A trials bike demonstration was also taking place throughout the day in the heart of the village. The race has been confirmed it will be back for 2014 and is looking for more sponsorship to continue it on into 2015.
The Milk Race – Elite Women’s Race
The Woman’s Elite Milk Race had a time limit of 50 minutes + 5 laps of the circuit. Team GB rider and Olympic Gold Medalist, Dani King managed to breakaway from the pack around the half-way point during the race and was so fast she managed to stay out front all the way to the end. She made history and claimed the first ever Woman’s Elite Race victory ahead of Hannah Barnes and Amy Roberts her Wiggle Honda Pro Cycling teammate.
Sarah Storey, multiple gold medal winner at the Paralympic Games also attended the event to take part in one of the non-competitive races early on in the day as she is currently pregnant. She said she hopes to compete in a race in the near future!
The Milk Race – Elite Men’s Race
The Men’s Elite Milk Race had a time limit of 60 minutes + 5 laps of the circuit. Felix English of Rapha Condor JLT was victorious at the revived Milk Race. Felix was in a breakaway very early on with Team Raleigh rider Alex Blain, they managed to make it stick and battled their way around circuit for the entire race.
Felix put a move on Alex Blain with one lap to go and managed to drop him. Alex Blain finished second, just ahead of Olympic Gold medalist and Rapha Condor JLT rider Ed Clancy. Moments after they crossed the line, everybody flocked to the podium for the final presentation of the day. The turnout was fantastic and Felix was given one hell of a cheer for a historic win.