Every person in Saffron Walden appeared to be on the streets and its thatched houses, beams and yellow cottages can rarely have looked finer. The helicopter camera gave us great aerial views of Audley End and a long extended advert for Felsted School, where four of Oliver Cromwell’s sons attended and girls were only allowed in the Sixth Form in 1970.
The commentators seemed very keen on churches, enthusing about St Mary’s Church in Saffron Walden (the largest church in Essex), William the Red granting St Michael’s to Great Sampford, and enjoying the tile and lead roof of St Mary’s in Radwinter.
It was great to see a giant Essex flag as the riders entered Chelmsford and credit to the farmer in Rayne who managed to etch “Rayne Welcomes TDF” on his field. We even had the rare sight of a prang on an Essex road without the threat of fisticuffs, as two of the riders at the back had a minor collision but just carried on cycling.
“And the riders continuing their pastoral journey cross Essex,” enthused the commentator as the race neared Epping Forest. The golden fields and hedgerows of Essex looked fantastic and the organisers must have been impressed by the turnout. Not so much Le Grand Depart as Le See Ya, Mate. Never mind Yorkshire, this was a great day for Essex.