VIDEO Harrogate’s Tour - the finish line

The biggest crowd Harrogate has ever seen lined the Tour route today for a race which will go down in history.

More than 100,000 people thronged to Harrogate town centre for a chance to witness the sprint finish on West Park Stray.

And despite a fall finishing the hopes of the town’s favourite son, the cheers on the finish line were enough to demonstrate that this was a “truly unforgettable” day.

“It’s been a huge day for Yorkshire - the biggest in it’s history,” said Gary Verity, chairman of Welcome to Yorkshire. “And Yorkshire has delivered in spades.”

Mr Verity was among the crowd on the finish line in Harrogate town centre, along with the Royal trio, Prime Minister David Cameron, Geoffrey Boycott, and a crowd of dignitaries.

“It’s been the most incredible day,” he said. “It’s been all highs - apart from Cavendish’s crash - but that’s cycling.

“What made today so special was the huge crowds. And the sun shone.”

Huge crowds lined the route from Ripley to Killinghall and up Parliament Street - the scene of Cavendish’s crash - to the finish line on West Park Stray.

There were street sellers, themed-food stalls, and the biggest cheers of all to the Yorkshire Tea show in the publicity caravan.

Visitors had travelled from around the world to attend, with one coach load coming from Holland for the occasion. Harrogate, they said, simply shone in the sun.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Rob Stanworth, 29, who cycled to Arthington and back to watch the riders twice. “We’ve done Yorkshire proud.”

And Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, said that after months of planning, it had been an emotional day.

“This is better than our biggest dreams,” he said. “The Tour de France is popular everywhere. But today was unbelievable and unforgettable.

“There are so many people, lining every single street. It’s amazing, and emotional.

“And everybody with a smile on their face.”

- For a full report and interviews see next Thursday’s special edition of the Harrogate Advertiser.