The Diss Express area was whipped up into a cycling frenzy as some of the world’s top riders raced through our region on Wednesday.
Starston, Pulham St Mary, Pulham Market, Tivetshall St Margaret, New Buckenham, Old Buckenham, Bunwell, Attleborough and Harleston were among some of the locations forming Stage 1 of the Aviva Women’s Tour.
The 132km stage began in Southwold and finished in Norwich, with Christine Majerus sprinting to victory on the opening day, with plenty of towns and villages hosting swathes of people to witness the action.
Harleston got into the spirit of the tour as people packed the Thoroughfare to show their support to the riders, with bikes decorated in ribbons and bunting providing a colourful spectacle.
Redenhall with Harleston Town Council chairman Barry Woods said there was a good spirit of those who came out to witness the race in person, and added it could help to inspire people to take up a sport to keep fit.
“From my point of view it was a good event,” he told the Diss Express.
It was a fantastic opportunity for residents of South Norfolk to see world class athletes in action for freeSouth Norfolk Councillor Clayton Hudson
“There was a really good spirit, with people cheering as the cyclists came past.
“If people see these very fit cyclists, if they get caught up in the excitement of what they are actually doing, then it may very well encourage them to take up all sorts of things to keep themselves fit, including purchasing a bike and giving that a go.”
Harleston’s Future also helped to spread the cycling theme by having tour flags made up in China which lined the town.
Volunteer Ian Carstairs added: “It was a fabulous day.
“Everybody did their own things — it was a very Harleston sort of day.”
Ultra-runner and Harleston Business Forum treasurer Simon Marjoram was successful in catching the riders in action twice in the town.
He was poised at the bottom of Swan Lane as the riders sped up through the Thoroughfare, and sprinted about 350m up the lane to see the cyclists as they continued Stage 1 throughout Norfolk.
“The whole day went very well, Harleston was packed,” he said.
“I did a run in the morning, for a bit of a practice, and if I’m honest I did not think I would make it, with the speed that the cyclists ride.
“I think that everyone really got into it.”
“I was quite surprised when I walked the dog on Tuesday night how many people had bicycles out in their garden. People really got behind it.”
South Norfolk District Councillor Clayton Hudson, a Pulham St Mary resident, took in the event in his village along with 150 others in and around the Pennoyer Centre — before heading up to Norwich to watch the riders cross the finish line.
“It was a fabulous event. We (South Norfolk Council) are very supportive of all the cycling events and are looking forward to hopefully host another again in the future.
“It was a fantastic opportunity for residents of South Norfolk to see world class athletes in action for free.”
Old Buckenham Parish Council chairman Steve Milner said a cycling legacy has been created in the village following last year’s Tour of Britain speeding though, with a weekend of events planned for September 3 and 4, including time trials and races on the green, and a 100m challenge on old, classic, bicycles.
“It was brilliant. It was not as big as last year’s event, because it was midweek, but there were still quite a few people out to see them through the village,” he said.
“Old Buckenham is definitely a cycle-friendly village now.”
n Majerus takes opening stage victory — see our report on the day’s action on page 54