THE Tour de Yorkshire rolled into Norton and the whole town did it proud.
Thousands of people helped create a real carnival atmosphere on Saturday as they lined the streets to cheer the riders through.
Visitors and local residents had gathered since mid morning to enjoy the entertainment organised from one end of Norton to the other.
Cyclists wait for riders to arrive
With bunting, bikes and banners, the town was buzzing with excitement with a real sense of community spirit, which many commented hadn’t been seen since the days of the Malton and Norton carnivals.
Paul Swain, from Norton, said he never seen so many people in the town.
He said: “This is just brilliant for the town – the crowds have been building and building – it would be wonderful if we could have it here every year.”
Anne Blake and her husband Tom, were enjoying the party atmosphere with a barbecue for family and friends in their front garden in Commercial Street, which had a prime view of the race.
She said: “This is a lovely opportunity to promote Norton and a great community event.
“It is so good to see people on the streets mixing with their neighbours.”
Visiting from Australia were Robin and Pratwi Rainton who are both keen cycling fans.
Australian visitors Robin and Pratwi Rainton enjoy the day with PC Nick Coning
Robin said: “We live in Sydney. but are visiting family in Yorkshire so decided to come to Norton for the day to see the Tour.
“These events are great because they take you to places where you wouldn’t necessarily visit.”
Pratwi said that the atmosphere had been really good with lots of crowds supporting the cyclists.
She said: “This is the first time I have been to Yorkshire and it is so beautiful.”
Stuart Raw, Andy Strong and John Johnstone, who are members of Bishop Auckland Cycling Club, had set off at 8.30am to see the Tour in Norton.
They were planning to cycle on to York to watch the race before returning home on Saturday evening.
John said: “There is definitely more of a buzz about cycling since the Olympics, boosted further by the Tour de France last year so it is fantastic to see so many people here.”
In Boom hair salon, in Commercial Street, the wine was flowing as a family from Leeds enjoyed the Tour - and a new hairstyle.
Spectators look forward to the race
Maggie Limbert said she and her daughters Amy and Frances had decided to make a day of it.
“There is a lot of community spirit and a really exciting atmosphere,” Maggie said.
“Everyone is on a high – this is so brilliant for somewhere like Norton. We’ve had a great day.”
Sarah Stead, owner of the salon, said they had been busy throughout the morning with cycle hair stencils.
She said: “They have been popular with children and adults alike.
“It’s been such a fantastic day for Norton.”
As the time for the Tour to pass through Norton grew near, so did the crowds, with a sea of spectators from Beverley Road to Welham Road, geared up to clap and cheer by the passing police motorcyclists who seemed as pleased to be taking part as the cyclists.
Matthew Enticknap, a member of Malton Wheelers Road Club, who watched the race from his doorstep, said it had been brilliant to have the Tour in Norton.
He said: “There has been a carnival atmosphere with wall-to-wall people.
“I was talking to a non-cyclist and even he said it sent a shiver down his spine.
“As a cyclist I knew this was going to be big, but this had been amazing for Norton and it is fantastic that Yorkshire is embracing cycling so well.”
Town mayor Ray King had swapped his ceremonial chains for a yellow Tour t-shirt and bike stencil in his hair for the day.
He said: “It has been absolutely brilliant – everything has gone so well and the whole town is buzzing – I hope we can repeat it year after year.”
Everyone who welcomed the very first Tour de Yorkshire to Norton on Saturday would certainly say “cheers” to that.