THOUSANDS of people have lined the streets in Helmsley and Kirkbymoorside to cheer the cyclists of the Tour de Yorkshire as they swept through.

In Helmsley, blue and yellow was the theme of the day, from the thousands of balloons that decorated the streets, to the window displays, to the colourful eye shadow of the staff in Porter's Coffee Shop.

Grey skies and spots of rain did not deter a huge crowd from gathering in the town centre to welcome the cyclists.

A huge banner encased the roof of the Black Swan, and the Pickering rotary club's pirate ship moored itself in the square, with pirates wandering the square collecting money for Marie Curie.

Spectators had been drawn to Helmsley from far and wide. Helen and Paul Whyman were on holiday from Norfolk in the area and decided they had to see the cyclists go past.

"It was a happy coincidence," said Mrs Whyman. "We found out our holiday was coinciding with the Tour de Yorkshire. It's really cool to be here.

"It's nice to see all the shopkeepers are dressed up in blue and yellow. It's quite exciting."

Some had made the journey from slightly closer to home. Ann Betterton from York said: "We saw the Tour de Yorkshire in York last year and we wanted to get a piece of the action this year."

She said the rain wasn't dampening spirits. "The atmosphere builds up. People have stories when they've been to an event like this.

She added that although it was disappointing for York not to host the Tour again, "Helmsley deserves it. It's a lovely place."

Half an hour before the cyclists themselves, the sponsors' caravan drew into town amid a blast of music. Then came a number of police motorbikes and support vehicles. Velo magazine staff, announcing over a loudspeaker that the cyclists were on the gruelling Sutton Bank, and eight cyclists had broken away, said: "Pretend we're not British, let's hear you!" to a loud cheer from the crowd.

Izzy Smith and Alex Maloney, a couple from Headingley in Leeds, were in Helmsley for the first time. Ms Smith said: "It's amazing, I want to come back every weekend!"

Mr Maloney said: "It's great to see so many people out. I guess it's a real follow on from the Grand Depart - it's really picked up in popularity which is good to see."

After the cyclists had come through Helmsley, they went east through Kirkbymoorside, then up and over the Moors to Whitby, via Grosmont.

Stage Three, the final stage of this year's Tour de Yorkshire, is a 198 km race from Middlesbrough to Scarborough.

The hilly route had a total climb of 2,593m.

Frenchman Thomas Voeckler won the stage, and the overall Tour, after a tense final battle with Team Sky's Nicolas Roche. Adam Yates of Orica–GreenEDGE came third.


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