With the likes of Nigel Mansell, Magnus Backstedt, Stephen Roche and other famous names, Dave Hayward took the trip to Paris from London with cameras in hand and here is his story
I arrived at the start venue as a photographer, but deep down Im still a cyclist envious of the adventure that lay ahead. Thursday 22nd of June I find myself up at the crack of dawn waiting for 365 riders to descend on a sports club in Esher to embark on an epic journey to Paris.
Sven Thiele conceived the idea eight years ago in creating an event for the amateur rider to experience a stage race style event in a sportive environment. London-Paris 2011 is a professionally organised cycle event. It is a seriously tough challenge and not a pootle to Paris. This is a cyclo-sportive which will demand physical fitness and mental strength.
Unlike most Sportives that are challenging for a 120k, London-Paris 2011 carries on the next day, and the next until they reach Paris. At 5 am, riders started to arrive. The sports club was becoming a hive of activity with 30 National Escort Group outriders to escort five groups of riders. Skoda had provided cars to lead each group and carry support members to various location on route.
Day 1, 170k ahead, would see the riders leave Esher towards Leatherhead, Dorking, Lingfield, Frant. Lamberhurst was a welcome lunch break where riders were treated with pasta and salad lunches. Dealing with the 350 riders on the road could be a logistical nightmare. With seven years under their belts, the support team or The Crew as they are known, have spent long hours in the planning stage to execute a well drilled operation second to none to the real Tour de France.