Describe your role for Škoda at the Tour of Britain?
Throughout the Tour of Britain, I host Škoda’s Guests, VIP’s and Competition Winners at the start, during the stage (for the lucky ones) and also at the stage finishes.
We generally meet in the morning, and chat over a coffee and light breakfast at the start-line hospitality.
Following this ‘gentle introduction’ I take the group for an informal walk around the team parking areas.
My recent background in the sport is as a Sports Director/Team Manager for professional cycling teams (for around a decade), so my knowledge, experience and relationships enable me to let our guests ‘peek behind the curtain’ whilst getting a far better understanding of the equipment variations, team staffing roles and responsibilities, than many spectators at the event.
During this we frequently stop and chat to Team Managers, Mechanics and of course some of the superstars of the sport – at which point I often take photos of the guests meeting the stars!
Two of the guests join me in the Škoda Guest Car for the stage. We set off around 5-10 minutes before the race and generally at this point, we discuss our thoughts and opinions on how the day’s racing will unfold.
Whilst listening to race radio (the same communication/information that the team support cars receive) and often watching the live TV feed I explain to the guests the finer tactical points of how, when or why a breakaway will be successful or not.
It isn’t a science, but a good level of professional sporting experience is essential to understand and to explain these dynamics.
When the breakaway group have a lead over the peloton, I can join the teams support vehicles behind the breakaway. We can chat to the Sports Directors in these vehicles asking them their thoughts and strategies for the day.
Using my experience and skills from years of driving team cars in races I’m trusted by the organisers, commissaires and riders to pass the breakaway group. Often there is a rider I know personally within the group they’ll shout ‘good morning’ or have a big smile on their face whilst the guests take their photos; usually from proximity that is so close it literally blows their mind!
We make our way ahead of the race to Škoda King of the Mountains and other key locations watching the breakaway pass and repeating the process a few times throughout the stage, before heading to the finish line hospitality.
Enjoying the complimentary food and drinks in the exclusive finish line area we’re able to talk through our thoughts for the finale whilst recognising some of the key features on the big screen and having front row views of the finish.
How many years have you worked with Škoda at the Tour of Britain?
I worked the 2014 Tour of Britain with Škoda and in 2015 I managed a team contesting the race. Since then I have enjoyed 2016-21 with Škoda in the role above.
What’s your highlight of the Tour of Britain?
I think firstly, I’m a fan of the sport. Therefore, seeing the increase in popularity of Cycling and the development of The Tour of Britain which has genuinely become one of the most professional, well organised and delivered events in the world – is always something that makes me smile.
From a personal perspective I really enjoy playing a small part in what for the guests is a big day.
Seeing the guests smile as they meet their favourite riders, giving them an understanding of how a pro-team works on the road, and of course their sheer astonishment and the accompanying ‘woaaaah’s’ when moving the car around the race.
It can be hard work but it’s largely pressure I put on myself to ensure they get a day they’ll never forget!
Which was the most impressive stage?
There were a few highlights during this year’s event; Mark Cavendish featuring in the sprints and also a breakaway.
Dan Martin, Andre Griepel and Tony Martin all superstars of the sport contesting their last Tours of Britain.
Local rider Gruff Lewis from Aberystwyth making the breakaway on the stage in his local area.
Robin Carpenter, the American rider managing to hold off the chasing bunch to win alone into Exeter.
But, if I must pick one; I make no apologies as a Welshman, it was the Aberaeron, Great Orme stage. The weather, scenery, crowds, and racing were incredible. I’m sure it was far more enjoyable from the comfort of a New Skoda Superb, than riding it though!