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“It’s fantastic, a race you have to experience to understand how hard and beautiful it is, and not enough words are adequate.”
Whether commentating on TV, radio, The Olympics or at the CiCLE Classic, the distinctive voice of Hugh Porter will always be associated with cycling.
Here’s what he had to say about his involvement with this modern, classic British cycling race, held in the East Midlands.
Q: Hugh, you won four world titles whilst cycling and achieved an MBE for your services to cycle racing. How proud are you and your family of those achievements?
Hugh Porter: Everyone dreams of becoming a World Champion and wearing a rainbow jersey and to win four for the Individual Pursuit, the blue riband of track endurance disciplines, is an achievement beyond my wildest dreams.
Q: Would you say cycling was in the blood from an early age?
HP: The answer to this has to be yes. My father was a good time trialist with victories at all distances but the war curtailed his career. We used to go and watch the local road races together in my early years. I was totally hooked on the sport as a schoolboy.
Q: How did you get involved with being the voice of cycling commentary later on in your career?
HP: I cut my teeth with local radio covering football and presenting a sports programme every Friday evening and from there I became the colour pundit for TV and eventually the lead commentator.
Q: You’re the official voice of the CiCLE Classic, which year do you think has been the most memorable to comment on and why?
HP: Yes, and what a great honour it is. Each of the races I have called have had their own significant markers so therefore I do not feel I want to single out any particular edition, but if I had to mention one of the races, perhaps two years ago when the end of the world almost arrived with atrocious wet conditions, anyone who survived that day in 2012 deserved a medal.
Q: How do you manage to keep up with race progress? What sort of organisation is involved?
HP: After I have watched the riders complete the opening loop through Oakham, I then go to Owston and make notes as the race passes and I also receive updates by race radio and from the advance announcer.
Q: What is the atmosphere like at Owston, Rutland?
HP: The atmosphere in Owston is always laced with a buzz of anticipation and I’m always given a very warm reception there.
Q: How does the CiCLE Classic compare to other races you’ve commented on?
HP: The CiCLE Classic, because of its own unique course and superb organisation sits right at the top of the pile.
Q: Spectators are always in awe when they see well known cyclists at sign-on at the start of the race. Does that ever happen to you?
HP: I couldn’t possibly comment.
Q: What can people expect if they come to spectate for the first time? Is there anywhere you’d recommend to be or what they need to look out for?
HP: It’s a chance for you to see a massive field of extremely talented riders including world and Olympic champions and I would definitely suggest you go to Owston after watching the start, to enjoy the development of the contest as it comes through every lap.
Q: Do you think the CiCLE Classic is a harder course in dry, dusty and rutted conditions or wet, slippy and cold?
HP: There is no easy way to tackle the route but wet and cold conditions can cause many extra problems.
Q: To what level would you like cycling to grow in this country?
HP: I would like to see national TV give the sport the same coverage as they do on the continent.
Q: How would you like to see the CiCLE Classic develop?
HP: It would be tremendous to see the CiCLE Classic get live TV coverage of the final 50km with an edited version of the early highlights.
Q: How would you have liked a CiCLE style event when you were racing?
HP: I would have loved it.
Q: What’s the most memorable event you’ve commentated on?
HP: Two spring to mind immediately, Mark Cavendish winning the World Professional Road Race Championship in Denmark and Sir Chris Hoy winning his record sixth Olympic gold medal at the London Olympics.
Q: Where can you be found on 27 April 2014?
HP: There is only one place to be, at the CiCLE Classic—bring it on!
Thanks for your time Hugh,
And your commentary on the CiCLE Classic.
Reporter: Jenni Manning-Ohren
Rutland-Melton International CiCLE Classic
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