Colchester: Top riders battle wet conditions for UK bike race
WET conditions made for a slippery start to the Colchester leg of this year’s showpiece UK cycling event.
Thousands of spectators nevertheless braved downpours to see some of the country’s top cyclists set off on the latest stage of the Halfords Tour Series.
A coming together of competitors led to an early crash and the temporary suspension of proceedings – but the race soon resumed to the reassurance of a supportive crowd.
It was the third time, and second successive summer the historic town has hosted the event which pits teams of five cyclists across 11 locations, also including Durham, Peterborough and Torquay.
It is hoped the influx of visitors will help swell the coffers of local businesses positioned along the 1.5km street route, which took in The High Street, North Hill and other parts of the town centre.
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The entertainment was not limited to the tour itself, as Upper Castle Park hosted a mountain bike track, BMX ramp and sprint challenge, a children’s play area and live music, while Lower Castle Park offered football, cricket, tennis and golf skills sessions. Last year, Colchester was awarded the “Pride of the Halfords Tour Series” for its range of family activities in the park to complement the race, which sees Britain’s 10 leading professional cycling teams battling it out over ten rounds to be crowned champions and the best team in Britain. Yesterday was the eighth round of the race, and home territory for Essex professional cyclist Jason White, of the new Metaltek Scott team, who finished the 2011 season ranked top elite male cyclist in Britain.
Colchester has twice previously hosted rounds of Britain’s leading televised cycle race, in 2009 and 2011 – while 2010 saw the town welcome The Tour of Britain for the finish of the penultimate stage.
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Graham Briggs took the honours for Team Raleigh – GAC in the men’s leg, while Eileen Roe took her first win of 2012 in round three of the Johnson Health Tech GP Series. The tour moves on to Woking for round nine on Tuesday, with Stoke-on-Trent hosting the final leg on Thursday.