Could a Tour of East Anglia follow successful Tour of Britain cycle race stage?

The cyclists in the Aviva Tour of Britain pass down The Strand under the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich on

The cyclists in the Aviva Tour of Britain pass down The Strand under the Orwell Bridge in Ipswich on their way to the finish line. - Credit: Su Anderson

The lead organiser of the UK’s top cycle event which raced across Suffolk this weekend has admitted a Tour of East Anglia would be a great addition to the cycling calendar.

Chief Executive of the Tour of Britain, Hugh Roberts at the finish of the 7th stage of the Tour of B

Chief Executive of the Tour of Britain, Hugh Roberts at the finish of the 7th stage of the Tour of Britain in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Crowds of people lined the streets of Suffolk on Saturday to watch some of the world’s best cyclists ride across the county’s roads in stage seven of the Tour of Britain.

The stage – the longest in this year’s competition – saw top professional riders including Sir Bradley Wiggins race from Fakenham to Ipswich, via Bury St Edmunds, Hadleigh and a number of other towns and villages as well as riding along the runway at Wattisham Airfield.

Hugh Roberts, chief executive of the Tour of Britain and the Women’s Tour, said: “It was a really interesting day.

“We don’t know how many people were along the route but we expect several thousand in Ipswich alone.

“The more we do these events in Ipswich, Suffolk and north Essex the more people enjoy them.

“We work closely with Ipswich Borough Council and they are now old hands at organising their involvement with schools and volunteers. It has been a great relationship and long may it continue – it is always nice to come back.

“We can’t come back every year but perhaps every other year, we will always try to.

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“Perhaps it might start to create other events we could do.

“A Tour of East Anglia would be nice.”

Sprinter Andre Greipel, who won four stages in this year’s Tour de France, pipped Elia Viviani in a photo finish on the line in Ipswich on Saturday to claim victory, though the overall standings remained unchanged as Edvald Boassen Hagen retained the yellow jersey ahead of yesterday’s final stage around London.

The tour was greeted by hundreds of people waiting on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, as well as several thousand in Ipswich around the finishing line and cycle expo.

Mark Watts, who came to Bury with his two children from near Newmarket, said: “It will be great to see Wiggo (Bradley Wiggins) coming past.

“It was a shame Mark Cavendish crashed yesterday, but there are a lot of great riders out there.”

Greipel admitted he was oblivious to the crowds as he sprinted to the finish as he was too focused on finishing what his team mates had started and clinching the stage victory.

Laura Boggis travelled from Southwold with son Finn Lomax, seven, to watch the stage finish in Ipswich.

She said: “It’s nice to see the race pass nearby and see it all up close.”

Dennis Martin came from Colchester to witness the race climax.

He said: “It’s great to have these events come to the doorstep, and brilliant to see so many people.

“There’s a great atmosphere at these things. I would like to see more, and a tour of East Anglia would definitely be good.”

A group of nine riders from Clacton Cycling and Running Club rode to Needham Market to watch a sprint section before pedalling to Ipswich to view the finish.

Paul Austen, from Frinton, said: “It’s brilliant, we love it, especially when we can cycle somewhere to watch it.”

Dave Bosley, from Clacton, added: “It’s nice to see so many people out.”

Janet Parsons, from Ipswich, said: “We are getting hooked on watching cycle races, dating back to the old Milk Race when it came to town.

“It’s great to see so many people out lining the streets.”

Husband Eric added: “It’s definitely a good thing for the town.”

As well as the Tour of Britain, two stages of the Women’s Tour raced through Suffolk and north Essex earlier this year and last year, while the Tour de France passed through Essex on its way from Cambridge to London for stage three in 2014.

Stage winner Boassen Hagen said: “There were a lot more crowds today, and they have been really good all week.”

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