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VIDEO: Much more than just a cycle race in Oughtibridge

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  • by Sam Jackson
 

I had no idea what to expect walking through Grenoside and down Jawbone Hill into Oughtibridge.

Thousands of people were expected in the quiet village, but would that many people really turn out for a cycle race?

As the eyes of the world were on Sheffield, would we do the city proud?

As soon as I joined the hundreds of people walking into Oughtibridge I knew that today was going to be like no other.

There was a buzz around, people were excited and there were smiles on the face of spectators.

Youngsters and many adults too armed themselves with chalk to write messages and draw pictures on the road.

Rachel Gale, aged 37 and Jo Horrobin, aged 42, from London had set up their tent during the earlier hours of the morning.

“We went to Leeds yesterday but the route was very quick. We thought they’d be slower here and we’d get to see more.

“The atmosphere is amazing,” said Rachel.

Houses along the route were decked in yellow, and many residents had brought their living room out onto their front garden.

Music was playing, barbacues were lit and laughter filled the air.

Judith Greaves, of Oughtbridge Lane, had scaffolding in her garden to ensure she got the best view when the riders came past.

“We got lots of friends and family here,” she said.

“I’m so excited. Everyone has decorated their homes off their own backs.”

Paul Barrow, who lived further down the road, couldn’t believe the atmosphere.

He said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s been buzzing all week and now it’s actually here it’s incredible.”

Thousands of families were in Coronation Park, one of the designated spectator hubs.

Youngsters enjoyed all kinds of activities, while adults basked in the sunshine enjoying a cool pint and listening to the sounds of Oughtibridge Brass Band.

They also could watch as the race got nearer on the big screen.

As I took my place near the 20km remaining sign on Jawbone Hill, I couldn’t believe the crowds that were forming.

The cheers began as the first vehicles passed and didn’t stop until the end.

Watching the Tour de France on the television simply doesn’t do it justice. It’s not just a race, it’s a show lasting several hours.

Dozens of vehicles passed in the caravan, throwing sweets, hats and other gifts to spectators.

The biggest cheers came when the Yorkshire Tea vehicles drove by.

“Chuck us some tea bags love, I’m gasping” shouted one spectator.

Then came the moment we had all waited for.

Several helicopters circled the sky above and we knew it was time.

The place erupted when the riders passed. They went by slower than I expected. The warm weather along with the Yorkshire hills meant the riders seemed to be struggling and went by in several groups, giving fans longer to enjoy the experience.

It was a day I, along with thousands of others, will never forget.

I need not have worried, we’d done Sheffield proud.

 

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