There was a carnival atmosphere on Angel Hill on Sunday lunchtime as a huge crowd braved the gloomy weather to roar home the riders of the first Friends Life Women’s Tour.
The spectators who gathered at the climax of stage five in Bury St Edmunds were treated to a grandstand sprint finish as reigning world and Olympic road race champion Marianne Vos led the peloton over the line.
The Dutchwoman, who rides for Rabo Liv, made it a hat-trick of successive stage victories with her win in Bury to take the overall win in the first women’s international stage race in Great Britain.
People banged together blow-up clappers and cheered home the riders to create an unforgettable atmosphere at the climax of the five-day 498.9 kilometre race.
Light rain came down as the crowd waited for the trailing group to come through, but it could not dampen the crowd’s spirits, who remained strong in numbers to cheers the very last riders through the finish.
No-one seemed to leave before the podium presentation had finished, with Britain riders Lucy Garner (Best British Rider) and Sharon Laws (Queen of the Mountains) in particular receiving a big ovation as they came on stage.
There was an emotional presentation to Emma Trott, the sister of Olympic champion Laura Trott, who only announced the race would be her last on Saturday.
The stage five leg, 108.3km from Harwich to Bury St Edmunds, also took in the towns of Hadleigh and Sudbury, as well as villages such as Great Cornard, Lavenham, Long Melford and Great Finborough.
* For pictures and reaction, see Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press and Friday’s Bury Free Press.