Record crowds for Tour de Yorkshire

Record crowds for Tour de Yorkshire

Published at 11:58am 1st May 2016. (Updated at 12:10pm 1st May 2016)

Over a million spectators turned out to watch the Tour de Yorkshire on what is being described as a "groundbreaking" day for women's cycling.

The hotly-anticipated ASDA Tour de Yorkshire Women's Race started in Otley, with Lizzie Armitstead leading the peloton out of her home town.

Crowds bigger than those who saw the 2014 Grand Départ in the town cheered on, as 100 world-class riders set off.

They included Rio Olympics hopeful Emma Pooley, Dani King and Lucy Garner from British squad Wiggle High5.

Hitec Products brought one of the world's strongest sprinters, Kirsten Wild, and also taking part was Dame Sarah Storey, who is Great Britain's most decorated female Paralympian in history.

Lizzie Armitstead, racing in her World Champion's jersey for the first time in the UK, said she had "goosebumps" when it started.

She also paid tribute to Otley and the immense support she was receiving.

The 136km race was a game-changer, as it took the same route as the men's and offered over £50,000 - currently the biggest prize pot in women's cycling.

The winner was Kirsten Wild who crossed the finish line in Doncaster before thousands of cheering fans.

Tour de Yorkshire

Lizzie Armitstead leads the women's peloton out of Otley

Stage 2 of the men's race then left Otley and took the same route along crowd-lined roads in Thorner and Aberford, and then on to Sherburn-in-Elmet, where thousands of people filled the centre.

There was more excitement in South Milford, Monk Fryston and Hillam, through to Pontefract and past Wentbridge House Hotel where a bride, groom and wedding guests came out to cheer on the peloton as it raced past.

The crowds continued for both races through Sprotbrough and Cote de Conisbrough Castle, Tickhill and Bawtry before riders headed for the finish at a "heaving" Doncaster.

Team Sky's Danny van Poppel won the men's race.

Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: "Today has been an historic day for women's cycling and it's been a spectacular day of racing.

"The crowds were once again phenomenal and to see how the people of Yorkshire have taken this event to their hearts is just overwhelming. There was so much spirit and positivity in Yorkshire today, it was magnificent to see.

"Clearly the one thing we would have changed if we could was the fact we had intermittent live TV coverage, but I must stress that safety is paramount. Unfortunately there was a serious technical fault with the plane relaying the TV signal, the plane had to be grounded and the TV coverage could not continue for this reason.

"Fans and communities have continued their spectacular support for the Tour de Yorkshire, not just from the routes, but also digitally by sharing images, footage and updates to keep the public informed."

Stage 3 will see the riders head from Middlesbrough to Scarborough on a route which includes Northallerton, Thirsk and Sutton Bank.