You could barely see the Tour de Yorkshire’s star cyclists whizz through the finish line in Leeds today for all the flags, inflatable signs and the sheer numbers of regional patriots lining the street to cheer them on.
The blazing sunshine ensured a festival atmosphere prevailed as the final riders – with Frenchman Stéphane Rossetto leading the pack – ripped through The Headrow in Leeds after a gruelling 189.5km Stage 4 race from Halifax’s Piece Hall.
Excitement mounted in Leeds city centre during the Bank Holiday Sunday race as the frontrunners could be seen on a big screen televisions winding their way through Otley, then by Kirkstall Abbey, towards The Headrow.
And an almighty noise of bells, cheers and front-row fans banging the railings rose up as Rossetto skirted Leeds Town Hall to a mighty four hours, 53 minutes and 22 seconds solo victory in the final stage. Ultimately though, Olympic champion Greg van Avermaet, from Belgium, claimed the full 2018 title.
Speaking at the finale, race organiser Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “I think it’s a great triumph for the people of Yorkshire and the people of Leeds, which is a sports hub for the country [and] beyond.”
But it was just as much an occasion for the region’s communities to show what they could offer too, and legions of volunteers for various organisations were out in force.
Retired police officer Michael Bowden, from Halifax, was collecting cash for the event’s official charity, Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
He said: “It’s been fantastic throughout, with really nice people. Generous Yorkshire folk.
“The buckets were quite heavy, so we’ve collected a lot.”
Rebecca Judge, 39, from near York, has attended every Tour de Yorkshire as a spectator and also saw the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in 2014.
She said: “This time I wanted to give something back. It’s great being part of the crowd.”
And Ken Watson, 32, who took part in one of today's Sportive cycling races, said: “The crowds were the best we’ve had.”
Leeds City Council Leader attended the finishing ceremony. She said: “What an incredible four days it has been for Leeds and for Yorkshire.
“It was excellent to see the people of Leeds turn out in their thousands in the sunshine and give the riders an electric reception when they arrived at the finish line on The Headrow.