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Kings of Hearts
4.10pm, Saturday 19th September. Sitting outside the Liberal Club in Whitehall, national champion, Kristian House, is signing autographs as he is towelled down by the Rapha Condor team soigneur. Surrounded by fans in Rapha T-shirts and caps he's all smiles, chatting happily and shaking hands. At the end of eight hard days of racing, you'd expect him to be relaxed. But House and the rest of the Rapha Condor team have been this way all week: the friendliest, most engaging team in the Tour of Britain.
The team have won hearts throughout this year's Tour and not just because of their behaviour off the bike. In the race they have attacked every day and placed riders in countless breaks. With eight ProTour teams fielding Grand Tour stage winners, the team might have been the poor relations, but didn't act like it. Darren Lapthorne showed his class in two gruelling all-day escapes and Kristian House gave everyone reason to cheer on Friday, his national champion's jersey pulling long turns in a two man break. House ended the race a creditable 10th on GC.
The team have been popular with fans and commentators alike, showing everyone how bike racing should be conducted. They have been the perfect ambassadors for Rapha and have made us all very proud. The culmination was Saturday's criterium in London - our home stage. Sir Paul Smith came down for a photo call with the team and close to 100,000 spectators enjoyed the sight of Kristian, Darren and finally Dan breaking away and driving the race. The team, Club members and friends celebrated with a post Tour party at Malmaison. Kristian was still smiling when I last saw him in the early hours.
Watch the race again on the ITV player: http://www.itv.com/ITVPlayer/Programmes/default.html?ViewType=1&Filter=2916
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