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Huge crowds cheer riders through Surrey in Tour of Britain success
7:47pm Monday 17th September 2012 in News
Masses of cycling fans turned out to line the roads between Reigate and Guildford yesterday to cheer on such champs as Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish in race action again.
For just weeks after they thrilled the crowds in the London Olympics road cycle races and time trials, which looped Box Hill and took the world's best cyclists through part of Reigate and Banstead borough, the sport's finest were at it again – this time racing in the final stage of the prestigious Tour of Britain event.
The event, Britain’s biggest professional bike race, had been expected to draw up to 200,000 people.
In the event, Surrey Police said numbers exceeded expectations.
The crowds started gathering throughout the county from early morning to watch the event, which started in Reigate at 12.15pm. Chief Inspector Clive Davies, said: "I was delighted to see so many people turn up to watch The Tour of Britain in Surrey over the weekend. "The good–natured and friendly crowds seemed full of the Olympic spirit in a continuation of what was a fantastic end to an incredible summer of sport in Britain.”
Mirroring the virtually trouble-free Olympics races, no arrests were made in connection with the event. The huge crowds saw world cycling champ Mark Cavendish sprint to victory over the cobblestones in Guildford High Street to win the event's eighth and final stage at around 4pm.
However, it was fellow British rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke who claimed over-all victory in the Tour – the first home win in 19 years.
The Tour of Britain not only followed Surrey's starring role in London 2012, but came after London mayor Boris Johnson and Surrey County Council announced they were launching an annual event based on the Games route, and after the county council revealed it was planning a bid to host a stage of the Tour de France, the iconic and arguably premier cycling event in the world.
The Tour of Britain will also be returning to Surrey next year.
The county council signed a deal with Weybridge-based Tour organisers SweetSpot to host another stage of the event next September.
Surrey County Council’s cabinet member for community services and the 2012 Games, Helyn Clack, said: “Watching the riders gunning for glory through Surrey was spectacular, so we’re delighted to welcome the Tour of Britain back next year and further cement Surrey’s reputation as a world-class place to ride.”
Coun Clack said: “We brought the Tour here because it will boost the economy by as much as £2.5 million, and build on the cycling fever sweeping the country following the Olympic success in Surrey.
“Now we’re looking forward to doing it again next year and teaming up with Boris Johnson for a weekend-long festival to inspire even more people to try out the sport.”
To ensure disruption was kept to a minimum, the county council sent newsletters to residents and businesses along the 90-plus miles of the Surrey stage of the Tour of Britain.
Unlike the Olympic race routes where all roads on the route were closed from early in the morning, most roads for the Tour of Britain were only shut for a short time. However, some were closed longer around the start and finish lines and over steep climbs.
Coun Clack added: “We’ve seen massive crowds showing real passion for their heroes. “People have been absolutely fantastic and it’s thanks to everyone’s efforts that disruption was kept to a minimum.
“The success of the Tour is also down to organisations across Surrey, including the police and councils, working closely together.”
Surrey Police, the county council and partner agencies spent many months working together to ensure the event passed off safely.
Chief Insp Davies said: "I would like to thank the officers and staff of Surrey Police who once again turned out to ensure a safe and secure event, displaying the best of British policing. It was a genuine pleasure to police the event.” Full details of next year’s stage will be agreed with SweetSpot and announced early next year.