A HOME win ensured nine days of cycling action in Harrogate got off to a spectacular start.
Beverley’s Adam Duggleby was the first rider to cross the finish line of Saturday’s Para-Cycling International, a curtain-raiser to the UCI Road World Championships which began the following day.
Duggleby piloted Hebden Bridge resident Stephen Bate, who is visually impaired, to win the B class.
David Stone, from Leeds, was winner of the T2 class and Halifax-born Karen Darke was first in the H3 category.
Organised by Yorkshire 2019 and British Cycling, the para event featured 89 male and female athletes competing across a total of 26 races, variously setting off from Beverley, Tadcaster and Wetherby and all finishing in Harrogate.
Results will count towards qualification for next year’s Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Bate was born in New Zealand and rides for Scotland.
He said: “That’s one of the fastest rides we’ve done all year and it was a real war of attrition.
“The atmosphere was absolutely incredible and we couldn’t have asked for more.
“Every town we passed through was absolutely packed and to hear our names being called out was just phenomenal,” recalled Bates.
“We’ve never experienced anything like that – not even at the Rio Games.
“It’s great to come away with a win and we want to thank everyone for all that support.”
Duggleby was equally enthusiastic, adding: “This is the first time para-cycling races have ever been held alongside an able-bodied event and finishing on the same line as the Road World Championships was pretty special.”
There was also a memorable victory for Dame Sarah Storey in the C5 class.
“This is the biggest para crowd I’ve raced in front of since London 2012,” said Storey who is Great Britain’s most successful paralympian.
“I heard so many cheers and people shouting my name – it was amazing.”
Storey feels Yorkshire has set the template for future para competitions.
“The course was really good and held in such a beautiful location,” she enthused.
“We very rarely get to ride point to point, but Yorkshire has taken the bull by the horns and hopefully this can be a blueprint for how para-cycling events are run worldwide.
“It was a really sensational event and I’m proud to have been part of it.”