Watch the start of the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire in Doncaster
Thousands packed Doncaster’s Market Place as the 2019 Tour de Yorkshire got underway.
After a dramatic countdown on the public address system, next to the the corner of the Corn Exchange, the riders, including multiple Tour de France champion Chris Froome, set off through a giant blue inflatable starting gate for what was the first stage of the race.
Froome had earlier been welcomed onto a stage with loud cheers by fans as he and the other riders, including fellow British cycling icon Mark Cavendish, signed up for the race in a high profile ceremony.
A crowd had gathered in front of the stage, in front of the entrance to the Corn Exchange, with some estimating there to have been around 3,000 in the market place alone.
The riders paraded around Doncaster town centre on their bikes at a slower pace, past the blue and yellow decorations and along the newly re-opened Hall Gate. Work on the road had been competed just days before the race after months of work, meaning it looked gleaming and new as the sun glinted on the wet surface.
Riders then rode out along Thorne Road, and eventually over St George’s Bridge, which was wet from an earlier cloudburst an hour before the race was due to start.
They carried on at a gentle pace, through Bentley, where familiar faces at the roadside included former Labour leader Ed Miliband and the injured former paratrooper Ben Parkinson, before the race proper got underway as the riders entered Toll Bar, heading out of Doncaster through Askern and Campsall, with the riders hitting 40mph.
The towns and villages along the 182.5km route turned out in force with 160,000 people in attendance according to police figures. Many were waving flags and banners, and yellow and blue bunting was hanging everywhere. Around 50,000 were expected in Doncaster alone.
Locals lined the streets, with a number of schools taking time out of lessons.
As the riders raced through Askern, some of the loudest cheers came from the youngsters from Moss Road School, assembled in front of St Peter’s Church.
They then headed out of Doncaster, towards the finish in Selby.
Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd was full of praise of the Doncaster residents who lined the route, and the businesses, residents and households who decorated.
He said: “It’s been a fantastic day. Christian (Prudhomme, Tour de France race director) and I were blown away by the creativity communities showed to celebrate the race. We saw painted cows and sheep, miles of banners and bunting, and the thousands of schoolchildren lining the route to give an extra special reception.
“Yes, it’s been damp weather but that didn’t dampen the Yorkshire spirit and fantastic images of the county have being broadcast right around the world.
“The shops and eateries offered protection from the rain and looked absolutely packed as we drove through, and I’m sure Doncaster’s fantastic new Market Place must have experienced their busiest day ever.
Jesper Asselman of the Netherlands won the stage. He described the residents who lined the route through the borough as incredible. He said: “It’s fantastic that they came out in this weather and it gives you goosebumps to ride through crowds like that. I will never forget today.”