Party atmosphere in city despite peloton passing in a flash

The Northern Echo: RELAXED ATMOSPHERE: A police officer poses for a photograph with fans beside Ripon bypass RELAXED ATMOSPHERE: A police officer poses for a photograph with fans beside Ripon bypass

CELEBRATIONS continued throughout the day in Ripon as throngs of spectators descended on the city for a glimpse of Tour de France.

Fans said as Ripon was only 12 miles from the Harrogate finish line of the opening stage they were aware the peloton would pass in a flash, but chose to watch it there due to the ease of access.

Detailed car parking arrangements, with many spectators having to park up to five miles away at Newby Hall, appeared to go to plan.

As the bells of Ripon Cathedral rang for hours, a party atmosphere prevailed in the Market Place and at Ripon Racecourse, where crowds massed to watch big screens and join in a range of activities.

Mayor of Ripon Councillor Mick Stanley took on a four-minute cycling challenge in his regalia as a giant grasshopper gave out freebies to youngsters.

Along the race route, French gendarmes on motorbikes high-fived fans, as a small peloton of their North Yorkshire counterparts drew cheers as they rode past spectators on mountain bikes and allowed Australian fans to don their helmets for photographs.

Jeff and Glenda Stephenson, of Bishop Auckland, were among thousands who waited for more than three hours on verges beside Ripon bypass to see the spectacle.

After the peloton passed stone quarry manager Mr Stephenson said: "They were going so fast you couldn't look what any of the riders were wearing or see who anyone was.

"It was frightening really with all of them that tight together."

Mrs Stephenson added: "I'm really pleased we came, it was a once in a lifetime experience and Ripon did them proud."

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