Near to 10,000 cycling fans took to the streets of Aberdeen yesterday to cheer on some of the UK’s top cyclists for the city’s third visit from the Tour Series.
With a new route for 2019, the city centre was closed to traffic and transformed into a looping race track as hundreds of riders made their way down some of the Granite City’s most iconic streets.
Professional teams from across Britain went head-to-head on the new 1.3km course, following a loop from Broad Street through Upperkirkgate, Schoolhill, Back Wynd, Little Belmont Street, Belmont Street and onto Union Street.
Following the races online, Commonwealth champion and Aberdeen-born Neil Fachie tweeted that Aberdeen had done cycling “proud.”
Winning the women’s race last night was Jess Roberts, who become the first female rider to win three consecutive rounds of the Tour Series, while the men’s race was won by Alex Paton after a dramatic sprint finish.
— The Tour Series (@TourSeries) May 16, 2019
Tour Series race director Mick Bennett said plans to bring cycling back to the city next year were already taking shape.
He said: “This is – without any exaggeration – my favourite venue.
“It’s all about encouraging the younger generation to get on their bikes and enjoy it.
“It’s been a bit of an experiment for us to move the finish up to Broad Street, but it’s a magnificent backdrop and I think it’s more a sporting circuit than the other one.
“The council and politicians wanted to promote the area up here and it’s worked so far.”
Younger cycling fans were also given the chance to share the stage with the professionals yesterday.
As well as an activity zone filled with a bike obstacle course and pedal powered cinema, races throughout the day challenged young and amateur cyclists to completing the fast-paced course.
Micah Myles was Aberdeen’s first winner of the day, placing first in the under-10s race.
Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said the Tour Series visit had “brought the city centre to life”.
She said: “I thank everyone who turned out to cheer on the riders and to create such a brilliant atmosphere, from the very first race with our budding local riders right through to the professionals crossing the line in the finale.
“The activity programme, which ran from noon, created a great buzz and with the sun shining there was a fantastic vibe all around the course.
“Our role as a destination is growing and evolving at a rapid rate and the council continues to invest to build on the good work that has been done.”
With hopes that locals would also be inspired to saddle up as a result of the Tour Series, some members of the community suggested that work to improve the pedal potential of the city needed to be a priority.
Rachel Martin, campaign co-ordinator of Aberdeen Cycle Forum said: “We certainly support the Tour Series and we hope it will inspire people to jump on their bicycles, but we’re not going to see any great change in the number of people cycling in Aberdeen until we build the infrastructure.
“We need proper protected cycle paths that are separated from motor vehicles by a physical barrier.
“This is the most effective way to inspire people to cycle and to keep those people safe.”