EXCITEMENT was at fever pitch in Uttoxeter on Thursday as crowds gathered across the region to cheer on the riders of the Tour of Britain.
Starting at Trentham Gardens the fifth stage of the tour made its way over Blithfield Reservoir as it entered East Staffordshire.
From there it went down Stafford Road into Uttoxeter where a Yodel Sprint took place outside the Plough Inn pub.
Then it went up Hockley Road and into Oldfields Road passing the leisure centre and down Smithfield Road where crowds of pupils from the town’s first schools and middle schools cheered them on.
Crowds of townsfolk turned out to line Bradley Street and Dove Bank as the race went past Thomas Alleyne’s High School and the spectacular bull statue as it then crossed the Dove Way flyover and made its way out of town.
Next up a third and final Yodel Sprint took place on the B5030 outside JCB’s Rocester headquarters.
As the riders sped past the factory they were saluted by a JCB backhoe loader painted in Union Jack colours and a fleet of other JCB diggers, some with Union Jacks draped from their buckets and forming a roadside guard of honour.
A JCB spokesman said: “We were delighted to welcome the Tour of Britain cyclists to the JCB World HQ and as one of UK’s biggest manufacturers it was only fitting that they got a big British welcome from machines which help put the country on the map.”
After leaving Rocester the tour continued through Denstone and into Alton for the first time before the stage finished in Hanley and was won by United Healthcare rider Marc de Maar.
Sadly Brit Mark Cavendish, who had been wearing the leader’s golden jersey during the fifth stage, dropped out of contention while the stage also marked the last for Bradley Wiggins as he pulled out with a stomach problem.
The owners of Uttoxeter Cycle Centre in High Street John and his father Steve Kucharik told the Advertiser having the event go through Uttoxeter was ‘great’ and said cycling in the area had seen a big boost over the summer.
John said: “It was a great day for it. It was nice to see the sun shining and the race looked great going through the town.
“We have definitely seen a lot more people interested in road bikes — more than ever as a result of what’s happened this summer.
“Lots of people have been coming in the shop all week to ask about the race and find out what the best place would be to watch it from.” Steve added: “It was great to see Cavendish and Wiggins in the flesh and the kids lining the route all absolutely loving it and cheering them on.
“It’s been great for cycling what’s happened this summer, and for us and for cyclists in general.”