Tour de Yorkshire Day 1: Thrills and spills at the seaside
Even before the tumble on the approach to the finishing tape in Scarborough, the crowds had been buzzing.
Sir Gary Verity had said beforehand that this was the only free event at which spectators could get so close to world-class athletes, and on the North Bay they took him at his word.
The atmosphere was buzzing as they roared and hammered against the security barriers. Among them were Caroline Lazenby and Phil Davis, who had travelled - in fancy dress - from Sheffield, itself known for thrilling finish-line sprints.
“It is a tremendous day and it’s fantastic to see how many people have come to Scarborough. Everyone is so friendly,” they said.
“What a setting this is for an event.”
Some of the spectators were more familiar than others. Brian Musson, the 85 year-old star of ITV’s advert for the Tour, said he had been recognised in his home town of Filey and by people from as far afield as New Zealand.
In Whitby, where Don and Pauline Pickard holiday from Leeds, the crowds were out early. “We’ve watched all three years in Whitby and we think this was better than ever,” they said. “It was so well organised.”
Lance Harland, who owns a bike shop in the town, reported a boom in cycling interest since the first Tour. “I’ve been involved in cycling all my life and there are more people out on their bikes now,” he said.
“It’s bringing people back into cycling that haven’t got on a bike for 25 or 30 years.”
Pocklington was also seeing the benefit of its instant tourism boom, with queues outside cafes and stalls set up for the event.
In Bridlington, the riders had set off, on schedule, at 12.30, but Helen Broadley, Emily Dixon and Sarah Wilson were there after nine, just to get the best view.
“We’re not moving,” they said, in case anyone doubted it.
Brid is used to putting on a show, but this, said the mayor, Liam Dealtry, was something else. “You’ve got the VIPs rubbing shoulders and chatting with the public. The atmosphere is phenomenal.”
Among the VIPs at the starting line had been the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. “I used to cycle way back,” he said, before adding, perhaps in case they were short a rider, “I have still got my bicycle.”
Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, under whose wing the event is run, summed it up best. “Yorkshire has everything a bike race could ever wish for,” he said. “The terrain, the stunning landscape, passionate crowds and countless towns decorated with bunting, bikes and banners.”
Sir Gary, speaking after the dramatic Scarborough finish, said: “There is no better finish for such a race as Scarborough.
“It’s an amazing setting, just glorious. What a great setting for a Tour finish.”
Christian Prudhomme, race director, added: “Scarborough provides such a wonderful way to complete the stage ... the sea, the foreshore, it’s iconic.
“The huge crowds are also great, they really help the riders.”
The North Bay crowds made huge noise by clapping the barrier hoardings to express support for all the injured cyclists who limped past and made their way to the finish line following the huge pile-up on the home straight.