IT was just one of the many towns and villages dotted along the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire route, but as far as the good folk of Middleham were concerned, it was the centre of things.

Planning for the few minutes that it takes some of the best riders in professional cycling to pass through will have begun many months ago.

But with the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed, it all came down to today and Middleham’s moment in the spotlight.

Like the race itself, there will have been uphill moments, but as the clocked ticked down it was more like a sprint finish as the finishing touches were put in place.

Bunting hoisted and cut out cycles attached to walls, attention turned to traffic enforcement, erecting the bouncy castle and warming up the grill for the wild boar burgers.

Local businesses were making the most of the festivities.

Richard and Diane Green run the Sunrise Tearoom in the old town hall.

“What comes with the race is an extraordinary excitement,” said Richard, himself a keen cyclist.

“It’s like an energy that seems to come with the build up to it. Now that everyone is set up and ready with all the bunting up, the businesses ready and all the catering, myself and my wife are really excited with anticipation.

“I know it’s going to be like ‘whoosh’ and they will be gone in a flash, but we can’t wait to see them.”

Richard Fletcher, co-ordinator for Middleham Sports and Community Wellbeing Association, organised the grant from Richmondshire District Council that went towards the bunting and other cycling adornments.

Further corporate donations paid for medieval bunting reflecting the town’s association with Richard III, who was brought up here before he became king.

“I am what’s known as an incomer around here, so I am very keen and eager to boost business and tourism in keeping with the Dales and to perpetuate Middleham as the northern headquarters of racing training,” he said.

Councillor Simon Wheeler, born and bred in Middleham, was a regular sight rushing to and fro with equipment and the like and, between the pair of them, they made sure everything ran smoothly.

“We have done a lot of preparation and the community has really come together,” he said. “When the Tour de France came through it was fantastic and we are really looking forward to seeing the riders today.

“We have put so much bunting up to decorate our town to put on a real welcome here for everyone. We have tried to make it an all-day party.”