WITH less than a month to go before the OVO Energy Tour of Britain cycle race gets underway, excitement is building in Cotswold towns and villages along the route which the competitors will follow on Saturday 9 September (Stage Seven).

One of the towns the cyclists will visit on Saturday, September 9, is Stow-on-the-Wold, which played a key role during the 1967 Milk Race, the most prestigious cycling event in Britain at that time.

Stage two of the 1967 race, from Swindon to Malvern, passed through Stow. The stage was divided into two parts, with Stow as the breakpoint. This meant that Stow hosted a finishing line and a re-start, with the action in the town all taking place over a couple of hours in the middle of a very warm and sunny day.

Stow resident Rob Brown recalls: “When I watched the 1967 Tour pass through Stow, I was 14 and a keen photographer. I took a number of action shots at the finish line of the team time trial section in the town, and the intensity over the closing yards was really something.

"The crowd was swept along with the drama but, unlike today’s races, spectators were kept right off the road - partly I suppose because it remained open for traffic throughout."

At that time, the race was a strictly amateur affair, and British rider Les West was the overall victor.

He said: "“I won the Tour of The Cotswolds for several years in the 1960s. The hilly terrain suited me and there was very little traffic on the roads. I used to stay with friends in Gloucester before the race and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience."

“I have never lost my love for the sport and the Cotswolds. Even now I still get out on my bike regularly with my local club, and I enjoy taking part in the annual time trial which takes place in the Charlbury area in September.”