Tens of thousands of spectators lined the roads of Richmondshire as the Tour de Yorkshire visited today for stage three of the race.
The day began in Richmond where the competitors were given a raucous send off by the gathered crowds.
The sun shone down as they riders made their way over Station Bridge and on to Catterick Garrison for the official start.
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Local residents had come out in their droves to watch the spectacle.
Within minutes of leaving Catterick, the riders were whizzing through Bellerby and into Leyburn where spectators stood three deep in places in the Market Place, while others watched from roof tops, including an intrepid bunch who were on the roof of House and Home.
In a flash the riders were out of the town and along the A684 towards Bedale.
The event was embraced by communities on the race route who had decorated their homes and businesses ready for the day.
The cyclists’ passing prompted community parties that are expected to continue into the night.
The stage was eventually won by Maximillian Walscheid who sprinted to victory in Scarborough.
An estimated crowd of 650,000 lined the 181km route from Richmond to Scarborough, taking the three-day total to a whopping 1.7 million.
It had looked as though French rider Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Énergie) was going to spoil the sprinters’ party once again, but the three-time Tour de France stage winner was caught with just 300m to go and Walscheid (Team Sunweb) fired past him to seal his first victory of the season.
Friday’s stage winner Magnus Cort Nielsen crossed the line just inches behind to take second place, and bonus seconds on the line saw him tighten his grip on the blue leader’s jersey sponsored by Yorkshire Bank Bike Libraries. Astana Pro Team Rider now leads Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) by 10 seconds with just the final ‘Yorkshire Terrier’ stage remaining.
Nielsen also tops the best sprinter classification sponsored by Asda, while Michael Cuming (Madison Genesis) will defend the red best climber’s jersey sponsored by Virgin Trains for a third successive stage.
Skipton-based rider Pete Williams will wear the grey most active rider jersey on Sunday after fans on the Tour de Yorkshire Twitter page @letouryorkshire bestowed him the honour following his classy climbing display on fearsome Côte de Sutton Bank.
North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les said: “North Yorkshire hosted the entire Stage 3 route today, starting in Richmond, the historic gateway to the Dales, and finishing on the coast with the spectacular seafront finale in Scarborough.
“Towns and villages along the route looked fantastic, with so much imagination and effort put in by the residents.
“We are delighted by the amount of support for the race in our county from those who live here and visitors alike – everyone enjoys the day, and the financial benefits for the county will be seen for a long time to come.
“Our residents really like to make an event of the race and it brings pleasure to thousands along the route.”
Welcome to Yorkshire Chief Executive Sir Gary Verity said: “Once again the number of roadside spectators was utterly unbelievable. I don’t think Richmond has ever seen so many people and every village and town along the route was packed with smiling faces.
“Scarborough did itself proud as well. We love the finish on the North Bay and it’s an iconic feature of the Tour de Yorkshire. The crowds are always massive there but this year they were larger than ever and we were treated to some great racing in brilliant sunshine.
“We’ve had three magnificent days and we’re all excited now to see how the Yorkshire Terrier turns out.”
What better way to congratulate Max Walscheid on his #TdY Stage 3 victory than for our Corporate Director Colin Dales to present him with a hand-crafted gift?
— RichmondshireDC (@RichmondshireDC) May 5, 2018
Stage three winner Maximillian Walscheid said: “The scenery, the people and the weather were all incredible, and it seems like the race organisers have picked a really good week in the year for sun!
“The stage designers also did a really good job. The route was demanding but it still finished in a sprint royale and it was spectacular for the spectators. The reception we got all day was fantastic – people were standing in many rows. I’ve ridden famous races like Paris-Roubaix before but never seen crowds like that. This win was one of the proudest moments of my career.”
Race leader Magnus Cort Nielsen said: “The crowds were amazing and there was so many people. They seemed extremely excited and it wasn’t just kids jumping up and down but adults as well. That was a lot of fun to see and we all took time to soak it all in.”
1 Max Walscheid (GER) Team Sunweb 4:10:27
2 Magnus Cort (DEN) Astana Pro Team
3 Jon Aberasturi Izaga (SPA) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias
4 Bryan Coquard (FRA) Vital Concept Club
5 Robert-Jon McCarthy (IRL) JLT Condor
General Classification after stage two
1 Magnus Cort (DEN) Astana Pro Team – 11:44:02
2 Greg Van Avermaet (BEL) BMC Racing Team +10 sec
3 Eduard Prades Reverter (SPA) Euskadi Basque Country-Murias +12 sec
4 Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling +21 sec
5 Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) Katusha-Alpecin