Thousands of spectators lined the streets for the Doncaster Cycle Festival on Sunday to watch some of the country’s top riders in action.
The main spectacle was the Whinfrey Briggs Grand Prix featuring elite riders at 2.50pm.
This included Barnsley-born Ed Clancy MBE, who won gold and bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and gold in Beijing four years earlier.
Cycling supremo Ed took first place, just ahead of Rotherham-based rider Dean Downing in second place and James Moss finished third.
Ed said: “London 2012 did exactly what it was supposed to do. It inspired a generation. Events like this are a brilliant way to capitalise and make the most of that added interest.”
He was joined on the start line by former British champion Graham Briggs, of Rossington, and Doncaster’s two-time Olympian John Tanner.
Graham said: “There is a big crowd here today which is good for a first event. Hopefullt it can inspire some younger people to get out on their bikes.”
The Under 10s Championship kicked off the festival at 10.30am this morning.
Races that followed included the Under 12s Championship at 10.50am, Under 14s Girls’ Championship at 11.20am and Boys’ Under 14s-16s Yorkshire Youth Championship at noon.
The 3rd and 4th Category Race was next at 12.50pm, followed by the Women’s Grand Prix at 2pm, before the elite race.
All races took place around a 1km closed circuit in the town centre, which starts and finishes at Sir Nigel Gresley Square.
An estimated crowd of 3000 people watched as more than 300 riders negotiated a track around Waterdale, Wood Street, Cleveland Street and College Road.
Organiser Martin Maltby, president of Doncaster Wheelers Cycling Club, said the day could not have gone better.
The 45-year-old, of Edenthorpe, said: “It could not have gone any better. The sun was out, we had hundreds of cyclists, from youngsters to elite racers, and thousands of spectators watching the action.
“We have seen some fantastic, dynamic racing and hopefully this will just be the start of something big.”
National body British Cycling supported the event and provided a commentator and tannoy system for the day. Medals were presented throughout the day on a podium.
Marc Etches, chief commissaire for British Cycling, said: “The sun is shining and we could not have a better day for it. It is great to see all of these young riders racing before a large crowd. Probably the biggest crowd they have ever rode in front of.”
Aside from the racing, about 15 stalls will be set up in the main square with organisations such as Public Health Doncaster and Cycle Boost, all on hand to advise how to get involved with cycling.
Matt McGlone, project officer for Cycle Boost, said: “We are here to encourage people to ride to work. We have had a great turn out so far.
“There are so many health benefits to riding to work. It also saves you money and eases congestion on the roads.”
Jordan Sharples, of Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust, added: “We expect to see more people on static bikes in gyms across the town on the back of this festival. I’m sure there will also be a boost to cycling classes. It’s wonderful, this is what this square should be used for.”
Doncaster mayor Ros Jones said: “It has been a fabulous day for Doncaster. It’s great to see families here and their youngsters taking part.”
The event was months in the planning and has involved co-ordinated working between cycle clubs, the council, health bodies and other agencies.
Andy Maddox, business development manager for Doncaster Council, said: “We have more than 100 volunteers and there is 2.4km of barriers along the circuit.
“We had to apply for a temporary waiver on the 20mph speed limit on some roads because the elite riders will get up to about 30mph.
“That gives you a scale of the organisation that we have undertaken.”
Meanwhile, economists have predicted the event could boost the town’s economy by £20 million.
A number of hotel owners have told how they are fully-booked ahead of the festival, while others have requested rooms during Le Grand Depart Yorkshire leg of the Tour De France, which passes through South Yorkshire on July 6.
Dan Fell, vice chair of Doncaster Chamber of Commerce, said: “New cycling events add a new dimension to the sector and will help attract new visitors and tourists to Doncaster supporting local businesses including retailers, hoteliers and other leisure businesses.”
A whole host of other cycling races have also been organised as part of the ‘Get Doncaster Cycling’ project. Key events include the Tickhill Velo Family Ride on June 8, Cusworth Hill Climb at Cusworth Park on June 25 and Bonjour Bawtry on July 5 and 6.
Where the races were won and lost:
Corner (Civic Corner)
The first corner of the circuit is a wide, fast corner and you can expect to see the riders flying past here after the long, wide straight leading from the start/finish area.
Hudson Cycles Corner (Wood Street)
A deceptively tight corner. It is all about getting the line right on the approach to this junction, and we may well see a number of attacks spring from this area.
Vanarama Corner (Cleveland Street)
Another tight-spaced corner, this one is critical to be in the right place as the exit is also tight. Falling behind or making a break near this point could prove decisive to the race outcome.
Direct Traffic Hairpin (Waterdale)
The final corner before the finish line. You can expect this corner to be a hotbed of action and laser-like precision riding. Racers will be jostling for position before this corner, ready for the finish line sprint.