‘Tour de Yorkshire’s brought our Doncaster community together’
Many may not have known who the riders were – but they were united in their excitement at a big sporting event touching their town.
Thousands came out to see the Tour de Yorkshire hurtle through Askern, both from the town itself and from the world beyond, with many observing it had united their community.
A crowd had gathered at the Rock of Ages Evangelical Church, on Doncaster Road. Pastor Frank Holmes had opened the church’s car park to the public. The church was also offering free refreshments and toilet facilities to the hundreds lining the route through Askern.
He said: “There have been quite a few come here to watch the race. I ride a bike myself, but mine’s got straight handlebars and three gears. Everyone has really been looking forward to the race – we’re proud of Yorkshire here, that’s why we call it God’s Own County.
“We have a good cycling heritage here in Askern – Peter Hill lived here, and was famous as a rider in the Tour de France, and there used to be cycle races at Askern Welfare.”
Among those waiting for the start of the race at the church was Samantha McDermott, with her baby son Isaacs. “I’m really looking forward to the race,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s a great atmosphere and its brought the community together.”
A big crowd gathered along High Street, next to Askern Lake. Many said they did not know who was riding – but just wanted to see the race.
The ground around the lake had been used for stalls selling items and running games.Bikes were attached to trees next to the road, with blue and yellow bunting linking along the road side.
Among those gathered for the race was Kevin Vincent, with his daughter Amy Vincent and baby grandson Eddie Frank Hadwin.
He said: “We’ve been rally looking forward to it. I’m more of a swimmer than a cyclist, but we’re going to watch it at the White Hart. I don’t mind who wins, although I’d like to to be Chris Froome or Mark Cavendish.”
Shop workers Sarah Shaw and Donna McKinlay had spent hours decorating the shop window at the Tia greyhound rescue shop, attracting widespread praise in the town. Sarah got drenched bringing in some of the shop’s stock after a cloudburst hour before the race started.
Sarah said: “The race has been really good thing for the community. The schools have brought all their kids out, and we’ve just seen some of them coming past in the rain, bless them.
Donna added: “A lot of people have got involved. The bunting around the lake looks superb.”
Barnby Dun residents Ian Brown, Kathleen Brown and Angie Hyde had travelled from their village to watch, taking a position next to the lake.
Kathleen said: “I think its good for Doncaster. It’s the first time I’ve seen the race.
Askern resident Susan Williamson she did not really know who was riding, but she and her friends had arrived nearly two hours before it was due to start.
“We’ve never had anything like this come through Askern,” she said.
Alan Miller, who runs the All Sorts general store said he had sold a few extra balloon to racegoers, but did not think it had made a big difference economically. But he added: “It’s good for Askern and it’s got everyone out. It was spectacular seeing it come through. It’s been nice that people have been talking to each other and it has brought the community together.”