Remember when the tour crossed Kent in 2007

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Thirteen years ago, “the biggest annual sporting event in the world” made its way through Kent at the finish of the Tour de France in the county.

With a boost of £ 40 million for the local economy, 189 runners left London and headed south towards the finish line in Canterbury.

Robbie McEwen celebrates stage victory at Canterbury
Robbie McEwen celebrates stage victory at Canterbury

The first leg of the 2007 race took place on Sunday July 8, which was a memorable day for the sport, with the Wimbledon Finals and the British Grand Prix too.

Although it does not present the physical challenges of the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees, the Kent route has created a dramatic spectacle with a number of upheavals, accidents and an inspired return.

Race director Christian Prudhomme hailed the day as one of the most watched stages in 104 years of circuit history.

Presented as a dress rehearsal for the UK before the 2012 Olympics, the race across Kent drew crowds of two million people as Australian driver Robbie McEwen claimed a spectacular victory by finishing straight along from Rheims Way.

Coming to Kent via Dartford, the 126-mile route took Greenhithe, Swanscombe and Gravesend before heading to Medway.

A slope at Greenhithe. Image: Jamie Gray
A slope at Greenhithe. Image: Jamie Gray
A fallen horseman evaluated after colliding with a support car at Royal Engineers Road, Maidstone. Image: Lena Ward
A fallen horseman evaluated after colliding with a support car at Royal Engineers Road, Maidstone. Photo: Lena Ward
The Haribo float in Gravesend
The Haribo float at Gravesend

After passing under the river through the Medway tunnel, the peloton headed for Chatham and headed for the rapid descent from Blue Bell Hill and into Maidstone.

After passing the county town, Wateringbury and Hadlow on the A26 followed as the scene went west to Tonbridge, Southborough and Tunbridge Wells.

Then turning east, the runners climbed through Goudhurst and headed for Sissinghurst and Cranbrook, Benenden and Tenterden.

The A28 followed as the group passed High Halden and Bethersden and towards Ashford.

Rounding part of the ring road, the peloton left town after Ashford Designer Outlet and headed for Kingsnorth, before returning to rural roads and traveling to Sellindge.

On the way to Ashford. Image: Jamie Gray
On the way to Ashford. Photo: Jamie Gray
Topiary cyclist, with the International House of Ashford in the background
Topiary cyclist, with Ashford’s International House in the background
Flash and you will miss it. Runners fly around Wincheap roundabout
Flash and you will miss it. Runners fly around Wincheap roundabout
Canterbury florist Christine Luck with one of the bouquets for the stage winners
Canterbury florist Christine Luck with one of the stage winners’ bouquets

The most grueling climb took place at Farthing Common when the runners hit Stone Street and started the long trail to Canterbury.

Arriving in town via Nackington Road, they turned left at the cricket ground and towards the ring road, ending on Reims Way.

British hopeful Mark Cavendish – now an illustrious stage winner and considered one of the best sprinters of all time – crashed into a reckless spectator on Stone Street.

A furious 22-year-old Cavendish had to change his bike and got stuck when his teammates failed to help him reach the lead.

His pursuit was further hampered when a race official warned him against rolling in the wake of his team car and he drove in tears for the final kilometers to Canterbury.

ITV presenters Gary Imlach and Ned Boulting broadcast from Canterbury
ITV presenters Gary Imlach and Ned Boulting broadcast from Canterbury
Going down Blue Bell Hill
Going down Blue Bell Hill
Horsemen escaped the attack. Image: Diane Talbot
Horsemen escaped the attack. Photo: Diane Talbot
Artist Brian Casey illustrates a racing scene. Image: David Antony Hunt
Artist Brian Casey illustrates a racing scene. Photo: David Antony Hunt
Will we still see scenes like this in Kent? Image: Grant Falvey
Will we still see scenes like this in Kent? Photo: Grant Falvey

He said: “Throughout the scene, the spectators were wonderful. There were only a few dangerous moments and it was one of them.

“There was a guy who stood a little further on the road than the others. I hit it and the next thing I knew I was on the floor. “

Undoubtedly as painful as the Alps ... the peleton climbs through Goudhurst
Undoubtedly as painful as the Alps … the flap climbs through Goudhurst
Multimedia Tours in Canterbury
Multimedia Tours in Canterbury

Cavendish finished third in the final stage, almost three minutes behind McEwen.

The future Tour winners, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, were also on the field.

Wiggins, who was driving for France’s Cofidis, said in 2006 that he would definitely test the Kent route before the summer stage in 2007.

The 126 mile route from London to Canterbury
The 126 mile route from London to Canterbury
Crowds are trying to get hold of free goods. Image: Grant Falvey
Crowds are trying to get hold of free goods. Photo: Grant Falvey
189 runners took the start of the stage. Image: Jamie Gray
189 runners took the start of the stage. Photo: Jamie Gray
Fleet of Eurotyre cars heading to Chatham. Image: Barry Crayford
Fleet of Eurotyre cars heading to Chatham. Photo: Barry Crayford
Steve Auty, boss of Pilgrims Hospice, masters the penny as part of the Canterbury preparation until July 8. Pic Gerry Whittaker
Pilgrims Hospice boss Steve Auty controls the penny in preparation for Canterbury until July 8. Pic Gerry Whittaker

His compatriot David Millar reaped the first time bonus at Gillingham, and he also won the second mini sprint victory at Wateringbury.

The first mountain king’s ascent took place at Quarry Hill, Tonbridge, and the second ascent took place at Goudhurst.

Aleksandr Kuschynski won the third intermediate sprint in Tenterden, just before a three runner crash in Bethersden.

The stage winner McEwen even had a heavy fall when he overturned the handlebars before the final climb to Farthing Common – about 12 miles before the finish.

“The fall took place on a small road,” he said.

The floats descend on Elwick Road, Ashford
Floats descend Elwick Road, Ashford
Hundreds of people watched on large screens scattered throughout the county. Image: Diane Talbot
Hundreds of people watched on large screens scattered throughout the county. Photo: Diane Talbot
Students of Archbishop Courtenay Jordan Gray, Codie McPherson, Luke Zigler and Georgia Adams set the mood for the Tour de France. Image: Matthew Walker
Students of Archbishop Courtenay Jordan Gray, Codie McPherson, Luke Zigler and Georgia Adams set the mood for the Tour de France. Photo: Matthew Walker
A sea of ​​colors like the biggest sporting event in the world has come to Rochester. Image: Jim Rantell
A sea of ​​colors like the biggest sporting event in the world has come to Rochester. Photo: Jim Rantell
Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey after the time trial in London and the first stage. Image: Barry Goodwin
Fabian Cancellara retained the yellow jersey after the time trial in London and the first stage. Photo: Barry Goodwin

“The first thing I thought about was that I broke my wrist because I couldn’t move. It was very painful.

“I thought it was that. Even my tour could have been finished. “

But with the help of his teammates, the 35-year-old recovered and returned to the peloton.

The installation Lost O art has arrived in Ashford ... 10 sheep were carrying bells while they were grazing in the cemetery during the event
The installation of Lost O art has arrived in Ashford… 10 sheep were wearing bells while they were grazing in the cemetery during the event
The peloton makes its way into Maidstone along the A229 Blue Bell Hill. Image: Mike Mahoney
The peloton makes its way into Maidstone along the A229 Blue Bell Hill. Photo: Mike Mahoney
Stage winner Robbie McEwen took the green jersey. Image: Barry Goodwin
Stage winner Robbie McEwen took the green jersey. Photo: Barry Goodwin
The KM car drives through Canterbury in what was a great day for Kent and sport in England
The KM car drives through Canterbury in what was a great day for Kent and sport in England
Maidstone's early spectators wrote helpful instructions for runners
Maidstone’s early spectators wrote helpful instructions for riders
The stage totaled 126 miles. Image: Jamie Gray
The stage totaled 126 miles. Photo: Jamie Gray

Despite the initial recovery, McEwen still had about 100 runners ahead of him with only three miles to go, but he made his way to a solid position and began to focus on winning.

“The last few kilometers, with the roundabouts and the bends, I tried to be economical and to conserve my energy,” he explained.

“I knew the sprint was difficult and uphill. You could only see the finish 160 yards from the finish.

“I saw the 200-meter board, and that’s when I started to move.

“It’s about arriving at the front line at the finish line. When I got the last few kilometers, I didn’t feel anything. I was so focused on what I had to do.

Huge crowds went on stage. Image: Linda Moreau
Huge crowds went on stage. Photo: Linda Moreau
The crowds of Canterbury await the last hundred meters of the stage. Image: Jamie Gray
Crowds of Canterbury await the final 100 meters of the stage. Photo: Jamie Gray
Hot spectators showered before the runners arrived. Image: Bob Goodwin
Hot spectators showered before the riders arrived. Photo: Bob Goodwin
Runners move around the Wincheap roundabout
Runners go around the Wincheap roundabout
Merchandise stalls sold within hours
Merchandise stalls sold within hours
The peloton leaving Hadlow. Image: Jamie Gray
The peloton leaving Hadlow. Photo: Jamie Gray

“In the sprint itself, nothing hurt except my muscles. Overall, it was a fantastic day. “

High Halden, near Ashford, has been chosen as the county’s French host village – the local green welcoming more than 300 guests to a large screen.

Hosting the heyday of the scene was a major coup for Canterbury, and the city rose to the challenge.

City Council organized a two-week event program under the Tower of Fun banner, and around £ 17 million was injected into the local economy following the summer show.

Crowds of Gravesend try to grab gifts. Image: Grant Falvey
Crowds of Gravesend try to grab gifts. Photo: Grant Falvey
British Hope David Millar in Medway. Image: Zoe Turner
British hope David Millar in Medway. Photo: Zoe Turner
There was a strong police presence in Canterbury. Image: Barry Goodwin
There was a strong police presence in Canterbury. Photo: Barry Goodwin
Cameras ready for parade in Canterbury town center
Cameras ready for parade in downtown Canterbury
Two million people are believed to have taken advantage of the sunny weather to watch the scene in Kent. Image: Jim Rantell
Two million people are believed to have taken advantage of the sunny weather to watch the scene in Kent. Photo: Jim Rantell

After the huge success of 2007, there was hope to bring the Tour back to the county in the following years, but that has not yet come to fruition.

Amanda Lumley, Tour de France project manager in Kent, said: “The French were blown away by our organization of the event and we are very likely to do it again.

“We have the model and we would be very favorable to a new offer. We have learned great lessons.

A carnival atmosphere at Chatham Dock Road before the cyclists arrive. Image: Barry Crayford
A carnival atmosphere at Chatham Dock Road before the cyclists arrive. Photo: Barry Crayford
The lion mascot of the Tour de France makes its way through Rochester. Image: Jim Rantell
The lion mascot of the Tour de France makes its way through Rochester. Photo: Jim Rantell
Robbie McEwen meets former KCC boss and former mayor of Canterbury
Robbie McEwen meets former KCC boss and former mayor of Canterbury
Leading group heads to Designer Outlet as they pass Ashford International station
Leading group heads to Designer Outlet as it passes Ashford International Station
Another art installation inspired by the Ashford Memorial Gardens tour
Another art installation inspired by the Ashford Memorial Gardens tour

“Canterbury has done exceptionally well. Their functioning could not be blamed.

“They worked very hard to make this event such a success. “

The 2007 Tour, which involved a number of doping controversies, was won by Spanish driver Alberto Contador.

The parade through Canterbury town center
The parade in Canterbury town center
World media took over Canterbury for one day. Image: Barry Goodwin
World media took over Canterbury for one day. Photo: Barry Goodwin
Dozens of yellow balloons were dropped into the blue sky. Peak; Linda Moreau
Dozens of yellow balloons were dropped into the blue sky. Peak; Linda Moreau
Breakaway leaders were four minutes ahead of the Blue Bell Hill descent
Breakaway leaders four minutes ahead of Blue Bell Hill descent
This is not your usual place to sit in Ashford
Not your usual place to sit in Ashford
Canterbury Continental Market
Canterbury Continental Market
Hopefully the tour can return to Kent soon
Hopefully the Tour can return to Kent soon

The tour had already made its way in 1994.

Read more: All of Kent’s latest news


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