YORK was turned into a festival of colour and excitement yesterday as the world's greatest annual sporting event came to the city.
Crowds of more than 100,000 gathered in the city for the start of Stage 2 of The Tour de France.
There were incredible scenes all along the route as local residents and fans from around the world cheered on the 198 cyclists.
Sir Rodney Walker, Chair of TdF HUB 2014 Ltd said: “Around 2.5 million spectators lined the route over two days and revelled in being part of history. The passion of the crowds in Yorkshire has really made this a weekend to remember.
"There has been a huge amount of planning and hard work from all the partners involved to ensure the first two stages were a success. We have once again showcased how the UK can deliver amazing events and a world-wide audience has seen the best of Yorkshire, and the best of the UK. I have no doubts the benefits of hosting the Tour de France in the UK will be felt both in the short and long term."
Kate McMullen, head of Visit York, said: "This has been a truly momentous event for York and Yorkshire with millions of people around the world tuning in to see the city and county in all their stunning glory.
"The atmosphere in the city has been electric and residents and businesses have done us proud in welcoming the Tour and our visitors with such infectious warmth and excitement. What an honour it has been to host the world’s biggest annual sporting event here in York."
On Saturday, Stage One saw the cyclists ride from Leeds to Harrogate, via the Dales, Masham and Ripon, and there were astonishing crowds at Buttertubs Pass. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry formally began the racing, at Harewood House.
James Brennan of York Racecourse said the course was proud to have been part of a momentous day for York. He said: "Today once again shows the power of sport to inspire, to bring people together and to be of significant economic benefit to a city like York.”
Fans from around the UK and around the world descended on York for the historic day.
John Hickes and Janet Wilkinson, from Malton, were at the racecourse and John said: "It's very exciting. We're never going to see anything like this again. It was smashing yesterday."
Paul and Lyndel Walton had travelled from the Gold Coast in Australia to watch the event and cheer on the Australian team Orica Greenedge.
Paul said: "There was an amazing number of people."
Len Double, a former amateur rider, cycled in from Stillington with his teenage son, and said: "I think the support we have seen in Yorkshire is more impressive than I have seen in France.”
David Saunders, whose late father Guy commentated on the race in France for many years, said: "He would have been so proud to see the race in England. It's a bit of an emotional day for me."
York resident Phillip Elliott-Dick, at the racecourse with daughter Erin, 4, said: "We're very excited. It's the first time in York so is an experience to relish."
Dave Rycroft, 36, of Borougbridge Road, at the course with his with son Jacob, 7, said: "I've followed cycling for 14 years and it's fantastic to have a stage of the Tour in York; it's just amazing. I've been looking forward to this for a long time."
Outside York Minster, Year 6 pupils from Buckhurst Hill Primary School in Essex were in York on a school trip. Teacher Angela Harris said they feared they would miss Stage Three, in the south-east today, but were able to enjoy the fun in York instead.
On Bishopthorpe Road, Carl and Jayne Wain were up early and had decked their house out in bunting and banners. Jayne said: "I've been watching the Tour since I was 12 and it's the most excited I've been in my life! The only disappointment is that we were up last night writing in chalk on the road, and then it rained and washed it off! We loved it yesterday. We could not believe the number of people."
Locals held a spectacular street party after the cyclists had passed. Johnny Hayes, chairman of Bishopthorpe Road Traders, said J'aime Bishy Rue was a true community event. "If you spend a lot of money on something it really must benefit the community and it has. It's an incredible day."
All the shops were open and the restaurants and cafes did a brisk trade.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust also joined in the fun and had a stall, thanks to Bishopthorpe Road trader Trinacria Sicilian restaurant. It actively encourages cyclists to ride to its nature reserves.
On the course, a late attack by Italy's Vincenzo Nibali earned him victory when the Stage concluded in Sheffield, after going through Knarebsorough, Blubberhouses, Keighley, Haworth, Hebden Bridge, Cragg ale, Huddersfield, Holmfirth and Holme Moss.
Nibali claimed the race leader's yellow jersey after coming out on top after a brutal and unpredictable day of racing over a testing 201-kilometre route.
The Astana rider, who won the 2013 Giro d'Italia, left his challenge late but timed it to perfection to clinch victory ahead of a host of leading contenders for the title.
Nibali took over the race leader's maillot jaune from stage one winner Marcel Kittel, of Giant-Shimano.
Local favourite Mark Cavendish missed yesterday's action after falling near the finishing line in Harrogate on Saturday
The 29-year-old Omega Pharma-QuickStep sprinter did not start the second stage due to the shoulder injury caused when he tumbled to the tarmac in a frantic finale in his mother’s home town.
The 25-times Tour stage winner suffered a separated AC joint after colliding with Australian Simon Gerrans, of Orica-GreenEdge, as Marcel Kittel won the stage and with it the yellow jersey.
"I'm absolutely devastated," Cavendish said at York Racecourse.
Police praised the crowds for their behaviour and there were no serious incidents reported. One spectator near Haworth suffered minor injuries when he stepped into the path of the cyclists while taking a photograph and was hit by a rider, who himself was unhurt.