THE first-ever Tour de Yorkshire has ridden itself into the history books after a momentous three days of racing. One and a half million fans at the roadside and TV audiences in more than 150 countries have witnessed some of Yorkshire’s finest scenery, with crowds at key points in the race comparable with the Tour de France.

In scenes reminiscent of last year’s Grand Départ, painted bikes, children’s artwork and hundreds of miles of bunting could be seen across the region weeks ahead of the race.

York Press:

Crowds gather in Bridlington

A strong field lined up for the first stage of the men’s race in Bridlington on Friday, May 1, among them World Champions and Olympians and 13 of Yorkshire’s finest riders. Sir Bradley Wiggins drew huge crowds with his Team Wiggins team mates, as did Giant-Aplecin’s Marcel Kittel, Team Europcar’s Thomas Voeckler and Yorkshiremen Ed Clancy of JLT Condor and Team Sky’s Ben Swift.

Unfortunately by Stage Two the race had lost two of the main riders as Ben Swift and Marcel Kittel were forced to retire, but Yorkshire’s towns and villages showed no sign of dimming enthusiasm for the race with crowds growing each day. Stage Three proved a hard fought, thrilling day of racing for the international peloton and spectators who lined the route.

York Press:

 Riders in the Tour de Yorkshire peloton push through Rosedale   

The crowds matched the excitement of the 2014 Tour de France and joint organisers the ASO and Welcome to Yorkshire are already looking ahead to the 2016 race.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “Once again we’ve seen staggering crowds provide a rousing welcome for these incredible riders. I salute each of the 144 riders in the men’s race and 98 in the women’s, and the 6,000 who took on the sportive. “We thank the people of Yorkshire and the riders, the crowds, the Tour Makers, the ASO and our team at Welcome to Yorkshire should be immensely proud of the weekend’s achievements.”

York Press:

A cyclist takes a break as he prepares to watch the Tour de Yorkshire riders make their way through Rosedale

Christian Prudhomme, Director of the Tour de France, said: “It was an emotional return to Yorkshire, who did of course put on the grandest of all the grand Départs last year. This was again a special moment, an historic three days and a great advert for cycling and the passion and the heart that Yorkshire has for the sport.”