Thousands see start of Tour of Britain stage
PUBLISHED: 12:17 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:17 11 September 2014
The streets of Exmouth were packed with spectators this morning for the start of the Devon stage of the Tour of Britain.
As the field, including Sir Bradley Wiggins among a host of top riders, made its way from the Strand onto the seafront, and off to Budleigh, they were cheered on by cycle fans, visitors, residents and schoolchildren alike.
The Strand area was closed off to traffic from the early hours to allow the teams to make their preparations, and crowds started to gather in earnest from around 9am.
They were able to enjoy entertainment, including stunt mountain bike displays, and see the team riders introduced on the main stage.
Round the corner in Rolle Street, spectators were able to walk up and down the team buses and vehicles, with a predictably large scrum outside Sir Bradley’s Team Sky.
With the TV helicopter hovering overhead, the riders got underway on the stroke of 11am, with the field passing the crowds waving Devon flags in a matter of seconds, followed by the train of speeding team vehicles and officials.
Among those watching was cycle fan Audrey King, 78, of St Johns Road.
She said: “It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Whether it’s the start or [as in 2011] the finish, it’s the whole atmosphere of it.”
The race attracted plenty of visitors to the town, with Martin Lucas, 68, having cycled 33 miles down from Wellington this morning.
He said: “I’m more a touring cyclist than a racer, but I like to come and see it.
“It’s good that the kids can see it and take it on board – I suppose they like to think they can be the next Bradley Wiggins!”
Adam Crabb, 28, from Dorchester, was visiting with his family.
He said: “We really like cycling and it’s the closest day of the Tour of Britain to us.
“It’s good to support cycling events like this – hopefully they just get bigger and better every year.
“It’s a lot bigger than I was expecting. I didn’t know all this entertainment was going to be here.”
The stage, the fifth of this year’s Tour of Britain, will finish in Exeter at around 3.30pm.
There will be live coverage on ITV4 from 1pm.