Gallery: Cycling fans get rare treat as they meet riders from The Women’s Tour
Top name cyclists mingled with the crowds in Essex today before riding out on the fifth and final stage of the first ever Women’s Tour of Britain.
The fifth stage began in Dovercourt at 10am , and a huge number of spectators lined the beginning of the route to watch the cyclists sign on at the podium before the official start.
Racing proper got underway further along the route at Parkeston.
The assembled crowds, bolstered by cyclists taking part in the 21st annual Tour de Tendring fun cycle ride which set off 30 minutes behind the professional race, were the first to hear leading British rider Lizzie Armitstead was retiring from the race due to illness.
Peter Hodges, spokesman for the race organisers, said: “The starts are nice, a bit more relaxed, and people can actually see and speak to the riders, it is all open to the public.
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“It has been encouraging to hear from the advance team or race organisers of crowds right along the route, though it is what we have come to expect of this area where people always turn out in support.”
Youngsters from Chase Lane Primary School had the chance to ride out over the start line ahead of the professionals.
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Councillor Fred Nicholls, vice-chairman of Tendring District Council, said: “It is absolutely brilliant this has come to Tendring and put us on the map. The exposure we have had as a result can only be good, it has been excellent so far.
“The amount of people coming out in support both in Clacton at the end of stage three, here today, and along the route has been incredible.”