The Tour of Britain cycle road race returned to the Peak District in style as Castleton, Hathersage and Grindleford provided the perfect backdrop for the sporting spectacle.
Thousands turned out to line the roads as Stage 6 of the week-long race came through Derbyshire from Stoke to Nottingham, today, Friday, September 11.
The 1,443.4km, eight-day, stage race started on Sunday, September 6, in Beaumaris, Wales, and hit the Peak District and Derbyshire during the 192.8km Stage 6.
As the race hit Derbyshire, crowds lined the streets to cheer on the riders. In Buxton people of all ages started gathering around an hour before the riders made their way to the town. Local school children waved flags and cheered as they welcomed the cyclists to town.
Lyn Gould, of Buxton, said she thought it was worth the wait adding: “I like the atmosphere an event like this brings to the town. It’s very quick but it was really nice.”
And David Wakefield, also of Buxton, added: “I used to be part of a cycling team when I was younger so I know how much effort goes into something like this. I take my hats off to them, the riders and the organisers. It’s great to have something like this on our doorstep. I think there should be more of it really to encourage people to get into sport.”
Eagle-eyed spectators were busy picking out the stars as former Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins, of Team Wiggins, and the Manx Missile Mark Cavendish, of Etixx Quick Step, drew the most attention.
Other big names included Movistar’ Alex Dowsett (101), of Great Britain, and sprinting powerhouse Andre Greipel (71), of Lotto Soudal.
There was still a great deal of local interest too with Sheffield’s Russ Downing, of Cult Energy Pro, and Rotherham’s Ben Swift and Doncaster’s Graham Briggs among the field.
From Buxton the race went on through a number of Derbyshire towns and villages including Whaley Bridge, Castleton, Stoney Middleton and Bakewell.
In Castleton, residents welcomed visitors from all over the country as they eagerly anticipated the arrival of the race.
Blushing spectator cyclists rode by to comic cheers from the crowds and police outrider motorcyclists added a sense of excitement with flashing blue lights and waves.
Cheers roared down the main street through Castleton as the riders swept through in three batches with a leading breakaway group making the early running with a good gap over the main group.
Spectator Ian Wragg, 55, of Deepcar, Sheffield, said: “I enjoyed the Olympics and came out for the Tour de France when it came to Britain and whenever there is a big event I am happy to take a day off work and be part of it.
“It’s fantastic to have such a big event like this in the area just to be able to see the best cyclists and have a great day out.”
Chris Shearer, 64, of Timperley, Altrincham, said: “I was in the Schoolboy Hill Climb Championships in 1966.
“I had it harder than today’s Tour of Britain riders because they got to come down Winnat’s Pass and I had to go up it.”
Peter Outram, 62, of Castleton. said: “I remember this race being the Milk Race and that came through Castleton. Cycling is part ofhe scene here and it has increased greatly after the Tour de France came to Britain.”
Pauline Fisher, 74, of Castleton, I think this event will remind people what a super place Castleton is. The cyclists got a very warm welcome and I would love to have invited them in for a cuppa.”
Paul Jagger, of Hartsehead, near Huddersfield, said: “I have come here specifically to see the Tour of Britain. I try and follow all the big cycling events on my bike and ride the route just ahead of the competitors.
“These events are fabulous and it’s great to see so many people getting into the sport no matter what their abilities. The Tour of Britain is great but cycling is for everyone. It’s about the fat lad at the back too.”
Alec Horn, 73, of Castleton, said: “It’s wonderful that the Tour of Britain has come here. I only had to travel ten miles to see the Tour de France when it came to Britain and with this race coming here this time I have only had to walk a few metres. I could have even watched it from my home.
“I am a triathlete and my wife Philippa also goes touring with me on a tandem. We’ve crossed America on a bike so we’ve some sympathy for today’s Tour of Britain racers and the distances they cover. We’re flabbergasted by the speeds.”
John and Sue Turner, of Barnsley, who also provided great Tour of Britain photos to the Derbyshire Times, thoroughly enjoyed their trip to Castleton.
John said: “I think it’s brilliant to see the Tour of Britain coming to the region. It’s great for the economy and it’s great for Derbyshire to get the county on TV. It’s been fabulous.”
Further south, it was a similar scene as crowds cheered on the cyclists as they sped through Stanley Common, West Hallam and Ilkeston as the stage neared its thrilling climax.
Spectators included Stan and Ann Henshaw, from Cotmanhay, who met in a cycling club in 1956.
Mrs Henshaw, 76, said: “There is some fantastic cycling at the minute. We watch it all.”
George Sully, 85, from Kirk Hallam, said: “This is such a popular sport - it’s great to have it here.”
Pail Rees, 66, said: “It’s a good route, not far from the Peak District. Interest in cycling is growing tremendously.”
The stage was won by Italian Matteo Trentin of the Etixx Quick Step team ahead of race leader Edvald Boasson Hagen and Britain’s Owain Doull.
Trentin had been part of a breakaway that was eventually chased down by a 24-man peloton which included all the race leaders.
But Cavendish has been taken to a hospital with a shoulder injury after suffering a fall and is now out of the race.