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Tour de France: Hillsborough residents out in numbers - eventually

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To begin with, it seemed as though Hillsborough may have missed out on Tour de France fever.

At lunchtime, just a few hours before the race was due to pass through northern Sheffield, there were only a few scattered spectators along the route down Halifax Road, Penistone Road North and down to Herries Road, while owners of pubs and shops putting on Tour de France events were looking outside rather nervously and hoping trade would pick up.

But by the time the caravane of promotional vehicles came past shortly after 2pm, most of the streets were full of spectators - with the long, straight stretch of Herries Road particularly busy.

While the area was not as packed as other parts of the route, those who were there were determined to create a great atmosphere.

The weather held firm throughout the day, with spectators basking in the sunshine throughout the afternoon and providing warm applause and cheers for the riders when they flew past on their bikes.

After the event finished, trams back into town were packed full of satisfied spectators, while local pubs were full with happy drinkers toasting a historic day.

It was a particularly special day for brother and sister Peter Atkin, 60 and Jean Williamson, 66. They made a special trip to Penistone Road North to watch the race from outside the house where they grew up as children.

The pair received a happy surprise when they arrived at their old home to find its current owners had decorated it specially for the Tour, with a yellow bike hung on the front of the property and one of the doors painted with red polka dots.

Jean said: “We could have gone anywhere but we wanted to watch it outside our old house. The decorations have absolutely made it for me.”

Steve Mundey, from Wadsley Bridge, was in Hillsborough to watch the race go past with wife Debbie and neighbour Wayne Stride on the corner of Penistone Road North and Herries Road.

He said that it was good to see Sheffield promoted in its best light, following the recent BBC Two documentary Policing Under Pressure which focused on some of the difficulties facing the city.

“It has been a wonderful experience. This has shown the true community spirit,” he said.

“This area has got some bad press. It is absolutely fantastic to see so many people out here and the organisation has been excellent.”

 

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