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Stannard bags aerial view of race
Team Sky's Ian Stannard missed out on this year's Tour de France due to injury but got the next best view of the peloton yesterday when he hitched a ride with the Red Arrows.
The RAF's aerobatics team wowed the huge crowds at Harewood House, near Leeds, with a flypast as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge chatted to the riders on the start line along with Prince Harry.
As the planes flew low over the start line with Kate, William and Harry watching, Stannard, 27, was in one of the Hawk jets - Red 8 which was being piloted by Flight Lieutenant Martin Pert.
His brother, Flight Lieutenant Matthew Stannard - a Royal Air Force Tornado pilot - was in the back seat of one of the other nine planes in the formation.
Stannard was in Team Sky's team that helped Chris Froome to Tour victory last year.
But he missed out on selection for the 2014 race due to injury.
He said: "The Red Arrows flight was truly amazing - it gave me a very special position to see and cheer on the Tour de France, not to mention the fact that I was also in the air with Matt, making it a unique experience.
"It's been massively interesting to compare what I do with Team Sky to how the Red Arrows and pilots in the Royal Air Force go about their highly-specialised work.
"There are so many similarities. In cycling you are riding at speed, just millimetres away from another bike in a group of 200 people. The Red Arrows are just as precise and accurate - nine aircraft, as little as six feet apart, flying at more than 400mph."
His brother said: "To be flying with the Red Arrows over a Tour de France start in the UK with my brother is something I'll never forget."