The Cheshire East stage of the Tour of Britain has been hailed a huge success after thousands of people lined local roads to cheer on their cycling heroes.
In a carnival atmosphere across the Borough, Wilmslow-based Ian Stannard proved the benefits of local knowledge by winning the stage against a line-up of stellar talents that included Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Adam Blythe and André Greipel.
Stannard, 29, who led a small breakaway soon after the start of the stage, told the BBC: “I train on these roads every day, since I was 18, so I really enjoyed it today and was giving it some down the descents.
“Cheshire East pulled out all the stops and got an amazing crowd out. Every town, every hill, there was massive crowds. It was great to see.”
Cheshire East Council Leader Councillor Rachel Bailey said: “The whole event was an amazing, joyful and exciting spectacle and it was fantastic to see so many communities taking part and really getting into the spirit of this fabulous event. I think we’ve really set the gold standard for future Tour stages to emulate.
“I’m sure that everyone in Cheshire East will also join me in congratulating Wilmslow’s Ian Stannard on his stage win on home soil! What a great and fitting achievement.
“I hope his example will inspire many more people to take up cycling – either for leisure recreation or competitive sport – and to get and stay fit and healthy throughout their lives.
“To see so many top athletes cycling through our communities and the beautiful countryside of Cheshire East was an inspiration to us all and I’m delighted the Council was successful in its bid to bring the Tour of Britain to the Borough.”
The Tour of Britain’s Cheshire East Stage Three saw 120 top international cyclists racing 111 miles from Congleton to Tatton Park, in Knutsford, on September 6.
Councillor David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council and Mayor of Congleton, who helped start the race, said: “I felt like I had best job in the land! To be hosting the start of Stage Three of the Tour of Britain, in such a party atmosphere with so many people packing the streets of Congleton – and the sun shining – it was just brilliant!
“Hats off to everyone involved for pulling together such a tremendous event and a big thanks to all our town and parish councils, and sponsors, for their support.”
The Tour of Britain, billed as the biggest free-to-attend sporting event in Britain, began in Glasgow on September 4 and concludes in London on September 11.
This year, 10 of the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) top-level world tour teams are among the 21 teams competing.