Thousands turn out to welcome the Tour of Britain as cyclists race through Northumberland
Thousands of people turned out on the streets of Northumberland, North Tyneside and Newcastle to welcome the OVO Energy Tour of Britain.
Communities joined in the spirit of the occasion by decorating the route and turning out to cheer on the cyclists.
Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Team Jumbo–Visma Cycling took the stage victory in style, stretching away on the tough finishing stretch up Grey Street in Newcastle city centre.
“It was a hard finish, a little bit uphill but okay for me,” he said. “The team did a very good job in the last 2K with the lead out. I went to spring a little bit early but it was enough.”
It will go down as a memorable stage, not least for the race being temporarily neutralised while the peloton waited for a train to pass on the East Coast Main Line at Widdrington.
The 114-mile stage, which passed the majestic castles of Bamburgh, Alnwick and Warkworth en route, was broadcast on ITV4 and shown around the world.
North of Tyne Combined Authority Mayor Jamie Driscoll said: “It has been a great day. The atmosphere was electric – the speed and endurance of these athletes has to be seen to be believed. I wish I could cycle that fast!”
Leader of Northumberland County Council, Councillor Peter Jackson said: “It has been a great day for the county and the whole North of Tyne area.
“We are blessed in Northumberland with amazing natural scenery and wonderful people and it is great that we got to show this off to the competitors and all those who watched the race unfold on television.
“In 2017 the Tour of Britain gave a real boost to the local economy and we’re confident this year’s stage will be great news for businesses and our ever increasing tourism industry.”
Elected Mayor of North Tyneside Norma Redfearn CBE said: “It was fantastic to see the prestigious race come to North Tyneside and I was delighted to see so many residents and schoolchildren line the streets and watch the riders come through.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to showcase our wonderful borough to a national audience who may never have seen some of the amazing landmarks we boast, including St Mary’s Lighthouse, Spanish City and Segedunum – to name just a few.
“It’s also great that the race comes off the back of our extremely successful Summer of Cycling and I’m sure it will help inspire more people to take to two wheels and enjoy some of the fantastic local routes we have here and consider cycling as a sustainable travel choice.”
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “Seeing these incredible riders sprinting to the finish on Grey Street was a spectacular sight and the city did us proud with an amazing atmosphere today.
“This historic North of Tyne stage, the first time Newcastle, Northumberland and North Tyneside have been visited in a single day by the tour, put on a great show with the eyes of the world watching.
“It rounds off what has been a remarkable weekend of sport for our city and one that will live long in the memory.”
The day dawned damp and drizzly in Berwick but began to brighten just in time for Northumberland County Council leader Peter Jackson and Mayor of Berwick Anne Forbes to bring down the flag and set the riders on their way.
The stage featured three SKODA King of the Mountains climbs at Ford Common, Belford Moor and outside Longhoughton and three intermediate Eisberg Sprints at Seahouses, Warkworth and Seaton Delaval.
Mayor of Alnwick Lynda Wearn said: “It’s been a fantastic day and a fantastic spectacle. We’ve had a great crowd, a great atmosphere and it can only be good for the town to welcome such a race.”
Mayor of Berwick Anne Forbes said: “It’s wonderful for the town. I’m very proud to be mayor when such a great event comes to Berwick.”
Coun Catherine Seymour, Berwick North, said: "It was thrilling to have the Tour of Britain in all its splendour and with spectacular colours of all the cyclist teams coming through Berwick-upon-Tweed for the first time at the top of England today!
“Whilst we cheered them on their way through Great Northumberland many eyes were on our town around the world. This was a fantastic opportunity for many to see how fortunate we all are to be living surrounded by the beauty of this county.
“Many thanks to the organisers, volunteers and school involvement that helped to make this stage of event such a success."
Italy's Matteo Trentin, who won the second stage of the Tour of Britain in Kelso, retains the overall lead.