Huge crowds cheer on cyclists

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Wetherby’s Mayor said he was overwhelmed when the world’s best para-cyclists were welcomed to the town by huge crowds last Saturday in a carnival atmosphere.

The first-ever para-cycling event to take place alongside a UCI Road World Championships, the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International included 26 races and starts in Tadcaster, Wetherby and Beverley with the results counting towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.

Wetherby Town Mayor Coun Galan Moss said: “I was overwhelmed with the day itself.

“I was very proud to be Mayor of Wetherby and pleased that we were able to put on such a spectacular display to showcase our wonderful town of Wetherby to not only Yorkshire but the World.

“It was a privilege to meet the athletes who started from Wetherby, shake their hand and wish them well on their way to Harrogate.

“I know how much the race meant to them and I’m so pleased that our town gave them the send off they deserve.”

A range of activities were organised by Wetherby Town Council and Leeds City Council to run throughout the day to support the race action.

Entertainment was held at the Horsefair Centre, while the Market Place saw all those racers starting in Wetherby being introduced as they signed on before starting.

A big screen at Market Place relayed all the action from the races live, while a family fun and sports zone ran at the fairground off Westgate.

Britain’s most successful ever female Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey, who added two more world titles to her legendary career haul last week, also featured.

Dame Sarah praised the Yorkshire crowds and said: “This is the biggest para crowd I’ve raced in front of since London 2012.

“I heard so many cheers and people shouting my name - it was amazing.”

Storey feels Yorkshire has set the template for future para competitions.

“The course was really good and held in such a beautiful location, “ she enthused.

“We very rarely get to ride point to point, but Yorkshire has taken the bull by the horns and hopefully this can be a blueprint for how para-cycling events are run worldwide.

“It was a really sensational event and I’m proud to have been part of it.”

Also in the field were Paralympics gold medallists Adam Duggleby MBE and Stephen Bate MBE, along with Ireland’s Katie-George Dunlevy and pilot Eve McCrystal, who won gold and silver medals at the recent world championships.

Tadcaster turned out in force to see the Para-cycling International event with the town bathed in sunshine and decorated with bunting created by Tadcrafters.

With Kirkgate and Westgate closed for the day, a community fair was organised with the centre piece event the chance to have a go on a wide range of adaptive cycles supplied by local social enterprise, Get Cycling CIC of York and an amazing megabus to get people around the town.

Local businesses took advantage of road closure by taking to the streets, giving an almost continental flavour to this corner of Yorkshire.

David Gluck of the town’s marketing body TEMPT, said: “It was truly an amazing day for everyone involved and a real eye opener to see what can be achieved by people with disability.

“Well done Tad and well done the UCI for bringing the races and racers here.”

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Judith Blake said: “It was a great day with yet more world-class sport in Leeds, with the Yorkshire 2019 Para-Cycling International taking place in Wetherby.

“Families and supporters had a fantastic time enjoying the thrilling racing in perfect weather and showcasing Leeds again on the world stage.”

Yorkshire 2019 CEO Andy Hindley said: “I’ve been completely blown away by the weather, crowds, scenery and support.

“The racing was brilliant too and all the riders were telling me it’s the best event to happen since London 2012.

“That means so much to me as we really wanted this to be a meaningful event, held on exactly the same stage as the Championships. The dream has become a reality today.”