Hundreds brave weather to cheer home Suffolk leg of Women's Tour
PUBLISHED: 18:06 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:06 10 June 2019
Thousands of people braved the elements to cheer home 96 cyclists during the first stage of the OVO Energy Women's Tour through Suffolk.
Thousands of people braved the elements to cheer home 96 cyclists during the first stage of The Women's Tour which took place across Suffolk today.
The staged cycle race - taking place for the sixth time - saw 90 racers set off from Beccles at 10.30am on Monday before winding their way over 157.6km through Framlingham and Bury St Edmunds and concluding in Stowmarket.
Belgian Jolien D'Hoore won the first stage ahead of Holland's Amy Pieters and Germany's Lisa Brennauer.
The former European Champion also picked up the green jersey and the points jersey with the Queen of the Mountain jersey going to Christine Majerus from the Netherlands and sprint jersey going to Coryn Rivera of the USA.
Supporters gathered along the both the starting point in Beccles and finishing line in Stowmarket despite a yellow weather warning of torrential rain for the day.
Excitement built in the crowds after the peloton passed through Stowmarket for the first time, retuning after a 12km loop to finish.
Brit Abby-Mae Parkinson had made an early break from the pack, stretching to a 1 minute 20 second lead. However, she was later caught by the chasing group.
Paul Canhan, who lives in Stowmarket, said: "It's very exciting, it doesn't happen very often so it's quite good that they've chosen us.
"We were up at Gislingham earlier waiting for the riders there and all the school kids were there it was a really good atmosphere.
His wife Ella Canhan said: "All the police were beeping their horns and waving at the kids, it's a real memory for the kids."
Andrea Downes, the new Mayor of Beccles, said it was easy to get caught up in the emotion of the occasion.
"It's beyond words to have an international event like this starting from Beccles and hopefully it will encourage people to take up the sport as well," said Ms Downes.
"What's also inspiring is the amount of volunteers, people who have given up their time to be a part of this and they love being involved with it, it's not a chore to them."
Stowmarket Mayor Paul Ekpenyong said: "It's fantastic seeing such crowds coming in to support the whole thing. I think it plays a major part in the effort to bring tourists to our town."
Stowmarket councillor Gerard Brewster, deputy leader of Mid Suffolk Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Growth, said: "It was great to see, despite the weather that so many people came out to the event.
"I know that the race is hugely beneficial to Suffolk and personally its beneficial to Stowmarket.
"It makes me really proud of Suffolk and I know the organisers know that whenever they come to Suffolk people turn out to watch and I think that's why they keep on coming back."