As glorious sunshine and thousands of Lancastrians greeted some of the best cyclists in the world it was obvious the Tour of Britain Stage 2 had been a huge success.
This was a culmination of weeks of hard work from town councils, local businesses and many more as a carnival atmosphere crescendoed from early yesterday morning.
Every shop was decorated with everything from painted yellow bikes and flags to knitted patterns and banners as cycling fever officially took over east Lancashire.
Towns were painted and decorated yellow for the special event as it made its way through Ribble Valley and Pendle, beginning at Clitheroe at around 11am and ending at Colne later in the afternoon.
Many commented on the “old-fashioned community spirit” of the event and it was obvious the amount of organisation, hard-work and passion organisers had drawn from various communities involved with the race.
A scheme that epitomised that spirit was Catherine Reid and her fabrics store in Longridge, Oh Sew Crafty, as her and 20 of her customers and friends “wool bombed” Longridge. It involved covering high street items such as entire bus stops, phone boxes and lamp posts with wool and all to support the Tour of Britain coming to the town. Catherine said: “We only started the idea three weeks ago and the support has been amazing. We wanted to do something to make the town look good for the visiting cyclists and it has brought out a real community spirit in all of us. Everyone has played their part in decorating their shop or wearing yellow for the day of the race and to see thousands of people lining the streets for an event that will last probably 30 second is fantastic and not something we’re used to seeing these days.”
It’s a great chance to show off the beautiful Lancashire countryside. It was a hard challenging course but it’s great for cycling.Brian Cookson OBE
It was the first day back for amy schools throughout the county but it didn’t stop them streaming into the streets to watch the race. Longridge Primary School’s headteacher Janet Cooper said her children had “enjoyed a fantastic day” and praised the organisation of everyone involved. She said: “We wanted the children to get out and see the race as it will hopefully encourage them to get cycling themsleves and show them the positive side of sport and exercise. Everything throughout the day went really smoothly and it’s a huge credit to everyone involved with the race.”
Head of world cycling Brian Cookson OBE, who lives in Whalley and used to organise the Tour of Lancashire, was also out watching the race and said: “It’s a great chance to show off the beautiful Lancashire countryside. It was a hard challenging course but it’s great for cycling. More people than ever are riding their bikes, watching or taking part and that shows how popular cycling has become.”
And it wasn’t just the spectators who were in good spirits as Norman Tenray, who is CEO of Longridge business Obas UK, said the police and race officials helped to make the day a success.
He said: “It was great to see the police egging the crowd on as they went round and really getting involved. Even the race officials were smiling and waving as they sold programmes and it just added to everyone smiling and being happy throughout the day. This has been a special day in Lancashire and I think it can be the start of something special.”
As the cyclists leave the county for Cumbria tomorrow, it doesn’t seem to be in any doubt that the race has left a lasting positive effect on the people of east Lancashire. Often these kinds of events can be branded as “leaving a legacy” but with the euphoria it spread across the county yesterday, the Tour of Britain may well have lived up to the cliché.