GALLERY & VIDEO: Crowds line Whittlesey, Pondersbridge, Benwick and Ramsey Mereside for thrilling cycle race
- Credit: Archant
MORE than 1,500 people lined Fenland’s roads to watch more than more than 140 elite riders, including Olympians and Tour de France stage winners, push themselves to the limit in Britain’s longest single day road race on Sunday.
They were taking part in the first Circuit of the Fens, a mammoth 200km National A category race, which began and finished in Whittlesey town centre.
The cyclists did six laps of a 27km circuit, which took them through Pondersbridge, Ramsey Mereside, Ramsey Forty Foot and Benwick.
At the end of the sixth lap, riders made their way back into Whittlesey via Coates and Eastrea, did six laps around Whittlesey and sprinted to the finish line in Market Street.
In a thrilling elite race packed full of relentless attacking, Marcin Bialoblocki, of UK Youth, crossed the finishing line first, followed by team mates Niklas Gustavsson and Joshua Hunt.
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He completed the course in a remarkable four hours 36.46 minutes.
Carl Dyson, of the Clay Cross Road Team, claimed the honours in the amateur race in a time of two hours 55.18 minutes.
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The event was organised and promoted by Anglia Cycling and St Ives Cycling Club.
Race organiser Tom Caldwell said: “The event was designed to raise the profile of Fenland and act as a rehearsal for the Tour De France, which is coming to Cambridgeshire next year.
“In my view, for a first time event, it was a stunning success.
“The racing on offer was some of the best I’ve seen this year and we were pleased with the size of the crowds.
“There must have been more than 1,200 people in Whittlesey town centre and about 300 people in Benwick watching the race.
“We want to develop this into a big international event.”
As well as the racing, a host of cycling themed community activities were set up, including a leisure cycle ride, cycle maintenance clinic, BMX demonstration and a ‘come and try it’ roller session.
Colin Coe, of St Ives Cycling Club, said: “The event went very well and the feedback has been very favourable.
“The council and the people of Whittlesey were really supportive and it was a very fast, exciting race.
“When we went through Benwick, people had organised a day of activities outside the pub and I think the riders really enjoyed the reception they got.
“British Cycling board members were there and they said they were very impressed with the event, which is encouraging as we push for inclusion on the Premier Calendar next year.
“I think the day demonstrated the people of Fenland are very receptive to cycling.”