Record-breaking crowds, incredible atmosphere and spectacular racing - it was a case of the Tour de France 2014 all over again at this year’s triumphant Tour de Yorkshire.
Anyone who may doubt that statement can’t have seen the broad smile on the face of Sir Gary Verity, chief executve of Welcome to Yorkshire and the man responsible for transforming Yorkshire into a world centre for cycling in only five years.
So phenomenally successful was the event, he even had time to take a stroll on Pateley Bridge High Street during stage 4 while eating a slice of pizza with Christian Prudhomme, director of co-organisers ASO.
Sir Gary said: “I’m so proud of this year’s Tour. The number of roadside spectators was utterly unbelievable. it was like being back at the 2014 Tour de France.
“Every village and town along the route was packed with smiling faces.”
Nidderdale Chamber of Trade chairman Keith Tordoff said“It really was a special day for Pateley on Sunday during Stage 4.
“Pateley looked magnificent and I think the town is well and truly on the organisers plans for any future events.
“Sir Gary and Christian Prudhomme stopped their official cars on the High Street and went for a walk about.
“They were shaking hands having selfies taken and eating a pizza from our pizza takeaway. The organisers must have been impressed as the second picture on the Welcome to Yorkshire website, after the Race winner , is one of Pateley Bridge High Street with the caption ‘ Perfect Pateley ‘“
The event, co-organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which is also responsible for both the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España, saw the eyes of the world on Yorkshire for the fifth year running andattracted crowds of an estimated 2.6 million over the four days.
Starting in Beverley in bright sunshine last Thursday and finishing on an equally scorching day in Leeds on Sunday, several towns and villages in North Yorkshire all got their turn in the spotlight.
North Yorkshire played host to part of Stage 2, all of Stage 3, which started in Richmond and finished in Scarborough and called in on several market towns including Leyburn, Northallerton and Thirsk, and the majority of Stage 4.
The biggest day for the Harrogate district was the final one - stage 4 - when crowds enjoyed a party atmosphere in Pateley Bridge, Masham, Grewelthorpe and Kirkby Malzeard with special events laid on in the build-up to the arrival of the peleton.
Masham Town Hall administrator Nick Reed said: “It was such a smashing day, even better than the Tour de France I would say. The West Indian pop-up carnival which Harrogate Borough Council set up was very popular.”
Grewelthorpe Village Hall’s vice-chairman Edward Threapleton said: “For a small village of approximately 300 people, it really did enter into the spirit of the event.”#
Masham Market Place resident Steve North said: “People I was with said they couldn’t remember a day like it. The pop-up carnival was a great idea and the live music from Chris Berry was perfect.”
Crowd member at Grewlethorpe, Julie, a Canadian from Vancouver who was visiting relatives in the village with her husband and two young children said:
“The children just loved all the excitement and the flags flying everywhere. In a great spirit of international spirit, there was even a French Tricolour flying alongside the Union Flag and the White Rose of Yorkshire.”
As well as the amazing crowd scenes as the riders climbed up Côte de Greenhow Hill, the jam-packed, cobble stones of Pateley Bridge town centre made spectacular viewing for TV viewers round the UK watching the drama unfold on ITV 4.
Butcher’s bakers, candlestick makers all got caught up in Tour de Yorkshire fever.
And the cycling itself lived up to the billing with four thrilling stages. Local favourite Mark Cavendish may have have struggled but there was glory for Belgian Greg van Avermaet (BMC) who won the men’s race w hile American cyclist Megan Guarnier (Boels Dolmans) won the women’s race.