VIDEO SLIDESHOW: Dramatic start and finish to opening stage of Women’s Tour
Huge crowds gathered on Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds this morning to witness a slice of sporting history - the start of this year’s Aviva Womens Tour.
The sun was shining as spectators arrived to find the perfect spot from which to watch the momentous race, many sporting yellow caps and flags in support of the action.
Ten lucky Bury Free Press competitions winners joined Women on Wheels (Wow) cyclists in a pre-race ride out at 10.45am, and soon after the countdown began.
Cycling fanatic Yvonne Bensley travelled from Wyndom, near Norwich, to watch the start of the event and was particularly excited to see Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Joanna Rowsell.
“I’m getting all worked up,” said the 87-year-old, moments before it got underway. “I shall talk about this for days after.”
With flags waving and crowds cheering, the cyclists set off for Westgate Street and started on a loop through the town which took them to Out Risbygate, Western Way, Tollgate Lane and Northgate Street, then up through Moreton Hall on their way to Thurston.
Hundreds of spectators turned out at the roadside and schools along the route also allowed their pupils to join in.
David Sayer, from Bury, missed last year’s inaugural race finish in the town so was determined to see this year’s start.
He said: “I really enjoyed it. I was waving my flag and shouting and screaming. The atmosphere was great - you’re better to watch it live than on the tele.”
The opening stage of the race also had a dramatic finale, with winner Lizzie Armitstead taken to hospital after crashing just 50 metres over the finishing line in Aldeburgh.
The 26-year-old commonwealth champion collided with someone inside the barriers after finishing with her hands in the air in celebration.
Other riders also crashed as the peloton rushed over the line.
The extent of her injuries is not yet known.
The final stage of the race ends in Hemel Hempstead on Sunday.