Video/Gallery: Marianne Vos wins again - the Dutch cyclist claims her third win as The Women’s Tour finale reaches climax in Bury St Edmunds
- Credit: Archant
The Dutch cyclo cross, road and track rider Marianne Vos was first to cross the finish line in west Suffolk as the fifth and final leg of The Women’s Tour 2014 came to a dramatic end on Sunday.
Vos was also named the outright victor of The Women’s Tour 2014.
She and the other riders set out at 10am this morning on the 108km fifth leg, and passed through East Bergholt, Hadleigh, Sudbury and Great Cornard before arriving in Bury St Edmunds a few minutes ahead of schedule.
Photographer Ed Loach watched as the cyclists rode between Ramsey and Bradfield, and shared his photos on Twitter.
Meanwhile, crowds had gathered on Angel Hill and along the cobbled finishing straight of Crown Street in Bury St Edmunds to see the riders flash by.
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They arrived from as early as 10am to find their vantage points and the organisers pepped up the crowds, encouraging them to bang the barriers to greet the riders some three hours later.
The atmosphere was electric as news filtered through about which riders who were out in front at the various stages.
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By the time Vos crossed the line there was a crescendo of noise and cheering, which reached a peak as she raised her arms aloft to signal her victory.
It was a third successive stage win for the Olympic and world road-race champion from Holland, who outsprinted Giorgia Bronzini, to win in a time of 2 hours 48 minutes 10 seconds.
Vos’s fellow Dutch rider Amy Pieters was third on the stage, with Britain’s Hannah Barnes in fourth.
Swede Emma Johansson finished second overall, 30 seconds behind Vos, with Briton Lucy Garner in seventh.
Two-time world junior champion Garner ended the race as the best-placed Briton, with Barnes one place behind her. Both were 50 seconds adrift of Vos.
Italy’s Rossella Ratto was third overall.
Britain’s Lizzie Armitstead, who started the day fourth, withdrew before the final stage after a week of battling illness.
Britain’s double Olympic track champion Laura Trott, who had a heavy crash on stage three, ended 55th overall and crossed the finish line alongside her sister Emma, who is retiring.
Speaking after her victory, 26-year-old Vos said: “I’m really happy to have won the Tour and captured the yellow jersey.
“I came here with a good feeling but we knew that it was going to be close but it is a great feeling to have won the first ever Friends Life Women’s Tour.
“It’s set the standard for every other race and we have made history.
“It was a nice finish on Angel Hill and great for the public to watch.
“The crowds have been amazing and it has been fantastic to see them all come out, especially the children cheering us on.
“It seems like everyone was out on the streets to watch the tour.”
Her comments were echoed by Garner who said: “Every single day has been brilliant with people out there. I got goosebumps from it.
“Just getting on the podium is great and it’s such a nice feeling that everyone was out there supporting us.”
For Bury it was a wonderful day and a boost for the town and the local economy.
St Edmundsbury Mayor Terry Buckle, who was part of the end-of-race presentation ceremony, said: “It is absolutely wonderful for the town to have such a prestigious event such as this and hopefully this will happen every year.
“It is another big plus for the town and the rest of Suffolk to have the tour coming through our county.”
Derrick Haley, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, added: “When Suffolk puts on a show it certainly knows how to put one on and shows how much an active county we are.
“People said that they were going to get out and give the riders the welcome that they deserve and they certainly did just that.”
It was also a day to remember for Debbie Ghant who won a VIP day for two at the finish of the tour in a competition run in the East Anglian Daily Times.
Along with her partner Andy Noble they were rubbing shoulders with the great and good next to the finishing line.
Debbie, who lives in Stowmarket, said she is a “massive” cycling fan and had watched the tour when it left Felixstowe on Stage 3, on Friday, and made a dash over the Orwell Bridge to see it again on the climb of Freston Hill.
“It’s been absolutely brilliant. We were going to watch the fifth stage as it went through Onehouse and Finborough but to win the VIP treatment we have been able to come here instead and it’s been fantastic.”