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Cambridge Waitrose in trouble for describing Tour de France as "local sporting event"

Posh supermarket triggers sense of humour failure

The Cambridge branch of Waitrose has landed itself in hot Essential Ironing Water by underselling the Tour de France in a warning about disruption likely to be caused by the race.

On July 7 Cambridge will host the start of the last of the Tour’s three days in the UK as it heads to a London finish before returning home to France.

The stage route heads south from the centre of Cambridgedown the A1309, and turns left on to the A1301 almost at the store’s entrance, so anyone who finds themselves in need of an emergency restock of black summer truffle  or hard-boiled, ready-peeled quail eggs may just have to suffer. Or — the horror! — go to Sainsbury’s instead.

Warning shoppers of the likely problems a sign at the store said: “Just to let you know...

“Due to a local sporting event a number of roads will be distrupted around our branch causing difficulty shopping on Monday 7 July.

“We will be open as usual but ui may find it easier to do your shopping earlier in the week.”

Calmer heads might take this with a pinch of Anglesey sea salt and see it as understated, tongue-in-cheek British humour, but that hasn’t stopped local councillor Ian Manning from taking it seriously.

According to the BBC, Manning, who in November called for the council to offer workers flexible hours so they could watch the race, said that calling the Tour a local sporting event was “bizarre”.

“Given that Cambridge is the UK’s number one cycling city and the Tour de France is the world’s number one cycling event - if Waitrose believes this to be a ‘local sporting event’ the phrase never knowingly understated springs to mind, let alone undersold,” he said.

“To have the race in the city is just incredible - describing it as a local event is bizarre to say the least.”

Mick Draper, president of the Cambridge Cycling Club, said: “It’s totally the wrong way to describe it.

“It’s an international event that’s been all over the world, so you can’t call it a local event.”

A spokesman for Waitrose, said: "We're very sorry that we got it wrong."

We do wonder if perhaps Mr Manning and Mr Draper need to sit down with a nice cup of Early Grey and a chocolate biscuit and relax a little. It’s only a bike race after all.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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