UPDATED: Tour of Britain brings 30 seconds of top level sport to Bury crowds
With no single focal point for the Tour of Britain’s section through Bury St Edmunds, the crowds lining the streets were thin but long.
They were a good natured lot, too, with those on Angel Hill cheering and clapping a confused looking cyclist in a hoody who rode his aging bike through a few minutes ahead of the cavalcade.
Many in the crowd were cycling fans, some wearing their Lycra and helmets having cycled to town.
Craig Dearden-Phillips, from Little Whelnetham, was dressed in civvies instead of Lycra but admitted to being an enthusiast and said: “It’s an iconic event and it’s coming through our town so you have to support it.
“It’s a big deal – cycling is becoming eminent in Britain.”
His friend Robin White, from Bury, sitting astride his bike, added: “It’s also because of the success we’ve had in the Olympics as a sport. I was doing it before that but it’s a factor in me carrying on.”
Keith Savill and Trevor Golding had cycled in from Linton near Cambridge.
Keith said: “It’s a great chance to see world class cyclists.”
Trevor added: “We spend quite a bit of time watching races on TV and its good to see it live.”
They did not have long to wait as the first of the huge police motorcycle escort came through, minutes ahead of the race. In fact, the police vehicles before and after the race took longer to pass than the competitors.
A car with a loudspeaker stopped briefly to explain the first group of riders, including four British, were 2min 20sec ahead of the rest. Minutes later, that group took just 2.4sec to pass the cheering crowds.
St Edmundsbury’s mayor Terry Clements began in pole position on the Abbey Gate road island waving his borough flag, but after the first group went through, race officials moved him off because he was not a press photographer. Perhaps they thought the cyclists might not see him in his red robes.
Then another procession of police bikes and cars was followed by the rest of the race. They took just 28.3sec to pass us followed by another procession of police vehicles, crews waving at the crowds, and team support cars, not even acknowledging the public and it was all over.
As Cllr Clements put away his flag he said: “It’s amazing for the area. I hope they can realise how good it is to come through Bury because we want them to come back another time.
“It’s good for the whole of Suffolk and as someone who supports the Active County it is something that encourages people to get involved.”
Schools along the route took full advantage of the opportunity the tour gave to liven up the day.
St Edmundsbury Primary School saw the cyclists pass by in Out Risbygate, a few yards from the deputy head Lyndsey Allsopp said: “We designed our own bicycles and cycle jerseys, learnt about the geography of the route, described our bicycles using great vocabulary and problem solving using distances travelled by bike.
“We waved our flags and cheered on the cyclists. The police drove by on motor bikes and waved to us all.”
Full report and race pictures will be in next Friday’s Bury Free Press.