IT COULD have been the set of a Hollywood blockbuster: a quaint, North Yorkshire market town taken over by film cameras, stages, VIP enclosure, bunting and flags. Pubs, shops and cafes bringing their wares out onto stalls to catch passing trade.

A Norman church is the backdrop to a very modern setting of cranes hoisting aerial camera and giant TV screens, and every building is festooned in yellow and blue ribbons and the now obligatory painted bicycle wheels.

The Tour de Yorkshire is now in its fifth year, following its initial introduction as host of the Grand Depart to the Tour de France in 2014.

Each year it has continued to grow, and each year, somehow, communities find ways to better themselves in their enthusiasm for the event which takes over the lives of everyone in its immediate vicinity for an entire day – no mean feat in a county famed for its curmudgeonly outlook on life.

That reputation has surely been squashed, now the county has taken the Tour de Yorkshire into its heart.

And Bedale was certainly the heart and soul of the second day of the 2019 tour. The effort and hard work paid off.

The town looked magnificent even when the crowds were sparse between the women’s and men’s races, but during the men’s race at the close of the day the roar from the enormous crowd could only make your heart leap into your mouth and be carried away with the spectacle of the event.

Marcus Ineson is the father of the landlady of the Black Swan, right in the centre of the High Street.

He was clearly enjoying his spot ‘playing landlord’ in his two-pump beer stall outside the pub, chatting to visitors and taking some of the pressure off the staff inside the packed bar.

“It’s been really busy since the women’s race finished in the pub. Everyone just descended on us. It has quietened down now and it’s just steady which is nice.

"We will stay open later tonight and keep the kitchen serving food later than normal as I think lots of people will want some tea after the race – there’s no taxis running until late so they might need to take refuge with us.

“We had the outside stall last year when the race just travelled through the town and it worked really well. I think the tour is fantastic for the town. It brings people in and gives us good exposure.

“A lot of people do come out to support these events, which is what makes Bedale such a great town.”

At the men’s race approached Bedale, there was a palpable change in the atmosphere: crowds quickly grew, the commentary and some distant chanting started to amplify the carnival atmosphere.

Children clattered plastic clapper boards, play-fought with giant foam hands, and rang cow bells, and the damp and chilly weather did nothing to diminish their high spirits.

At 5.50pm, it started to rain more heavily but still the crowds and anticipation grew – then finally the race flashed past in a matter of seconds to an eruption of cheers.

Rachel Globe, from Bedale, came to watch the race with partner Tom Lawson and their 18-month-old daughter Bea.

Miss Globe said: “I’m not a cycling fan but we live in Bedale and like to support community events. It has been a fantastic atmosphere and Bea has loved it – she was clapping and waving as they came past.”

Friends Fiona Thirsk, from Hull, and Mark Birtles, from Howden in East Yorkshire, were Tour Makers for the day.

Ms Thirsk said: “We have volunteered as Tour Makers for a couple of years and love it. Bedale has been fantastic today and we have just enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere and helping people to have a good time.

Clerk to Bedale Town Council, Nick Reed, said he could not be prouder of Bedale.

“I think it was wonderful. I was there since 6am and I thought it looked absolutely brilliant even when it was empty, but even more amazing when it was full of people.

“Both races were thrilling. I think people were taken aback by the sheer spectacle of it all. We knew it was going to be special but didn’t realise it would be like this.

“The absolute transformation of our market town into an international sporting arena was remarkable. Then when the commentary started to get exciting at 2km away and people were already banging the crash barriers, and the action moved from the screen to the road – it was electric.”

After the stage Welcome to Yorkshire Commercial Director Peter Dodd said: “We saw two identical stages for the men and women today and they both received unbelievable receptions. The passion in Barnsley from everybody who gathered to greet the riders was phenomenal and all the shops were decorated and doing a roaring trade. That reception was the same through every place we passed, and Bedale must take great credit as well for the welcome they laid on – the noise and sheer number of smiling faces was incredible. Thousands of people had been there all day and they were treated to some fantastic cycling.

“The amount of land art we’ve seen so far this year also deserves a mention. Every year we think ‘how can it be topped?’ but then it seems to get larger and the people who produce it are becoming even more creative. It was truly heart-warming to see. This event is more than just a bike race for the communities we visit and we’re all immensely proud of that.”