THOUSANDS lined the route for the first day of the inaugural Tour de Yorkshire.

Crowds gathered for the ceremonial start in Bridlington - or Bradlington, as race organiser Gary Verity said it should be named in honour of Sir Bradley Wiggins - before the pack snaked along coastal roads and through North Yorkshire landscape including Dalby Forest, Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay before a sprint finish in Scarborough.

Team Sky's Ben Swift, one of the race favourites, was one of several riders caught in a major crash on a wet section of road in the North Yorkshire Moors which ripped apart the peloton, while German sprinter Marcel Kittel had already climbed off, unable to keep up in his first race back after illness.

In Pickering, Tony Poole who was a Tour Maker at last year's Grand Depart, was a flag and whistle marshal at the race today, and is already predicting an even bigger race next year.

“I can really see it growing and within 10 years I can see it being the biggest race, the amount of interest has been phenomenal.”

Scenes from the day are expected to be shown on television tonight in 177 countries.

On Saturday, stage two sets off from Selby Abbey, taking in the Wolds and Beverley in East Yorkshire before heading for a dramatic finish in York.

The race which covers a total distance of 515km over the three days reaches its climax on Sunday, taking in some brutal climbs from Wakefield to Leeds.

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*Don't forget to look out for our souvenir supplement on Tuesday.