Video/gallery: Cycling stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish light up Suffolk in Tour of Britain

HOSTING the first stage of Britain’s biggest cycling race is a coup for Suffolk in any year.

But hot on the heels of a summer that has seen British cycling dominate the Olympics and Tour of France yesterday’s stage was a major boost.

Crowds turned out in their thousands to catch a glimpse of cycling stars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish race through the county.

Standing on Ipswich Waterfront in the blazing sunshine yesterday morning you got the feeling if Suffolk was ever going to have a revolution in cycling, now was the moment.

Riders - for a warm-up and also presumably to help further boost the sport’s popularity - began with a slow ride from Neptune Quay, along St Peter’s Street, Buttermarket and Upper Brook Street, and out to Christchurch Park.

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From there they went out on Woodbridge Road towards Kesgrave, where, in Main Road, the race itself got underway.

The 126.1-mile route snaked through some of Suffolk’s most beautiful countryside as it went via Melton, Woodbridge, Snape, Aldeburgh, Westleton and Southwold. After hitting Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth riders turned inland, traversing across north of Norwich and looping back around to finish at Norfolk Showground.

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“It was absolutely wonderful,” said councillor Peter Cox, mayor of Aldeburgh, who watched the race from the steps of Moot Hall. “As far as you could see to Thorpeness it was packed, all along the seafront.

“It was a wonderful spectacle. I was looking forward to it but once it had gone I turned to my wife and said ‘wow’.

“Everyone was cheering and clapping and the police motorcyclists were slapping hands as they went past and that really helped to get the crowds going.”

Ipswich Mayor, councillor Mary Blake, said: “The national focus is on Ipswich today.

“This is the culmination of lots of Olympic events. It’s a fantastic time, it puts Ipswich under the spotlight and the whole of Suffolk.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity - there’s a great feeling following the Olympics and Paralympics not just to get together but to be more active.”

The Tour of Britain was the professional icing on the cake for a weekend of cycling - on Saturday biking enthusiasts got to test out the same Ipswich-Norfolk Showground route as Wiggins and Co did yesterday. And straight after Ipswich enjoyed the start of the Tour of Britain race on Sunday, the town hosted a SkyRide, a three-and-a-half mile circuit around the town, which participants could tackle as many times as they wished.

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