The opening stage of the fourth edition of the Tour de Yorkshire was played out in a blaze of colour today over an 182km course from Beverley to Doncaster.
The so-called Arts and Culture stage attracted the remarkable crowds which have become a feature of the race since it began in 2015 as a legacy of the previous year’s Tour de France Grand Depart.
Women’s winner Kirsten Wild, from Holland, was cheered by spectators packed several deep as she crossed the finish line on Doncaster’s Bennetthorpe.
It was her second victory in the town, following the one-day race two years ago and she enthused: “The crowds here are amazing. We started at 8am and there were so many people at the roadside.”
British rider Anna Christian was in one of the day’s breakaways and won the prize for the most active rider.
“It is so nice to see the crowds, even in some parts where you wouldn’t expect people to be stood,” she said.
“They really cheer you on. There’s not many races where you get that.”
Among spectators at the start in Beverley were an enthusiastic group of youngsters from the town’s St Nicholas Primary School.
Teacher Christine said the race has dominated lessons for several week.
“We have been making flags and all sorts,” she said.
“It has certainly encouraged the children.”
Almost 2,000 volunteers answered an appeal to act as tour makers for this year’s race, which will be staged over four days for the men and two for the female riders.
Tour maker Kath, on duty in her hometown of Beverley, said: “Our role today is to help the crowd that’s here, to inform them exactly what’s happening and basically just answer any questions they have.”
Colleague Chris travelled from Hull to help at the start of yesterday’s stage. He added: “I was a volunteer for the city of culture last year.
“I was here as a member of the public last year and I really enjoyed it so I thought I would get involved.”
East Riding County Council chairwoman Caroline Fox was among spectators at the start yesterday.
“It has been a wonderful day, I have thoroughly enjoyed it,” she said.
“It has been wonderful watching the bike ride go through the parishes I represent, Airmyn and Rawcliffe.
“Everybody has got involved, all the school children - as I’ve gone round Beverley I’ve noticed how much hard work has gone into it all.
“You have no idea until you see it all. Everybody has joined in, it is just like magic and the weather has been very kind to us.”