Tour of Britain bike ride thrills Dacorum spectators

The riders start the race in Hemel Hempstead
The riders start the race in Hemel Hempstead

The world’s leading stars of cycling descended on our area over the weekend to wow spectators.

Mark Cavendish was among the big names to take part in the Tour of Britain bike ride, which saw the penultimate stage of the race start in Hemel Hempstead on Saturday.

Mark Cavendish on the podium

Mark Cavendish on the podium

And the riders made their way across Dacorum in the competition, passing through Ashridge, Aldbury, Tring and Long Marston.

As the race got underway, a helicopter flew overhead capturing some great aerial shots of Dacorum borough for the live broadcast on ITV4 as many more cycling fans came out to support the cyclists along the route.

After a start under clear blue skies in Hemel Hempstead and Dacorum, the race exploded into life – as did the rain clouds – with an aggressive start to the stage and Cannondale Drapac in particular making several attempts to put riders up the road.

Rider Lars Boom, who sealed an overall victory, said: “The first hour was quite critical, we lost two guys from the team in the second peloton, but luckily some other guys came back so we were still quite strong.

The Mayor of Dacorum with Ruth Glasheen from Longdean School

The Mayor of Dacorum with Ruth Glasheen from Longdean School

“If we had to do something we could do something but the first hour was almost killing me!”

Rory Townsend, who is making his debut in the tour this year for team BIKE Channel Canyon and who met local young cyclists at the Dacorum Cycle Hub this summer, placed sixth in the general classification for the King of the Mountains stage 7.

Dacorum Borough Council also organised a day of entertainment for the crowds in Hemel Hempstead after the tour had departed with 3sixty bicycle stunt team proving popular with crowds all afternoon and local Basketball team Hemel Storm met fans ahead of winning their first game of the season on Saturday night.

And Longdean School were announced as the winners of the ‘decorate a bike’ competition with bikes from Signpost and Youth Tenant Group as runners-up. Ruth Glasheen collected the trophy on behalf of the school.

The 3Sixty bicycle stunt team in action

The 3Sixty bicycle stunt team in action

Councillor Neil Harden, portfolio holder for residents and corporate services at Dacorum Borough Council, said: “What a fantastic morning for Dacorum to host Britain’s premier cycling event.

“It’s great to see so many people in Hemel Hempstead town centre and lining the route through the borough to support the cyclists and their teams.

“It’s great for our borough to host these events as it inspires so many people to get active and it’s a great opportunity to put our borough on the map.”