TOUR OF BRITAIN CYCLE RACE BIKES REPLACE APACHES ON WATTISHAM’S RUNWAY
Excitement built at Wattisham Flying Station ahead of Stage 7 of the Aviva Tour of Britain before passing through the Airfield on Saturday 12 September 2015.
Wattisham – the main operating base for the British Army’s Apache attack helicopter fleet welcomed the world’s top cyclists as they raced through the base during the 139-mile-long stage (7) from Fakenham to Ipswich.
The base’s 2,400-metre runway hosted an intermediate Yodel Direct Sprint, sponsored by parcel delivery company Yodel. The Sprint section was marked by Phantom and Hunter fighter jets, recalling the station’s history as an RAF base during the Cold War, while the finishing line was flanked by a pair of Apache Attack Helicopters.
The riders reached Wattisham Airfield at 2.30pm on their way to the stage finish on Princes Street in Ipswich, won by Germany’s Andre Greipel. As an operational military airfield, the general public were not allowed into Wattisham, but the race was broadcast live on ITV4 and British Eurosport as it passed through.
Flight Sergeant Darren Kerridge, an RAF survival equipment fitter for 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, volunteers for British Cycling to encourage people to get on their bikes.
The 43-year-old said: “My wife Julie and I are passionate cyclists, with seven bikes between us! We’re really excited about the Tour passing through the Airfield and we rode over from our house in Colchester to watch. As the professionals whizzed through it was great to see them riding where I work. There’s been a definite buzz at Wattisham about the race coming down the runway and I’ve noticed more people riding around the base. I got into cycling watching the Tour de France on TV and hopefully seeing the race will inspire people to get involved”.
Colonel Jason Etherington, Commander of Wattisham Flying Station, said: “The Tour of Britain is a great sporting occasion for Suffolk and the sprint along Wattisham’s runway provided a unique challenge. There are many keen cyclists at Wattisham, who compete at both military and civilian events, and watching the professionals in action was fantastic.”
The Aviva Tour of Britain was re-launched in 2004 after a five year absence from the calendar, and is British Cycling’s premier road cycling event giving cycling fans the opportunity to see the world’s best teams and riders competing on their doorstep. The Aviva Tour of Britain is the UK’s highest ranked professional cycle race and the country’s largest free-to-watch sporting event. Upgraded to 2.HC level by the UCI, the sport’s governing body, the Tour of Britain attracted the world’s top cyclists, including Olympic and World Champions and Tour de France stage winners, to compete on British roads each September, with three-hours of live coverage a day on ITV4. The overall Tour winner was Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.