Bradley Wiggins sets Shropshire into a spin

Thousands of cycling fans descended on Shropshire to see some of the sport’s leading stars race past in the Tour of Britain.

Bradley Wiggins sets Shropshire into a spin

Sir Bradley Wiggins leads the pack here as Cycling Tour Of Britain comes through Whitchurch

Check out our pictures as Sir Bradley Wiggins passed through Shropshire yesterday.

Sir Bradley Wiggins was the main attraction as the tour passed near Market Drayton and through Ightfield and Whitchurch yesterday.

The Tour de France and Olympic gold winner was joined by other cycling stars including Mark Cavendish as well as Shrewsbury-based rider Luke Grivell-Mellor as they raced towards Llanberis for stage four of the competition.

Eager fans arrived in Whitchurch at around 10am to secure a prime viewing spot. The riders passed through around five minutes earlier than expected at around 12.15pm.

Spectators were able to spot Sir Bradley, who got to wear the famous gold jersey under his dark Team Sky top after he became the overnight leader by winning the stage three time trial. Today’s fifth stage will follow the border down from Machynlleth to Caerphilly.

Amongst the crowd were 320 pupils from Whitchurch Junior School. Teacher Neal Challinor said: “We have been excited for weeks to see the Tour of Britain come past our school. We always planned to make the most of the opportunity and we had all the children outside waving banners and clapping.

“A lot of them were shouting ‘go go Wiggo’ or cheering on Mark Cavendish or Luke Grivell-Mellor.

“The whole event really captured their imagination. Our maths lessons have had a Tour of Britain theme in recent days, for example finding out about pedalling speeds, tour stage lengths and team costs.”

Cycling fan Mary Richardson, from Higher Heath, arrived in Whitchurch at 10am to get the perfect viewing spot on Bridgewater Street.

She said: “It was absolutely brilliant. I watch all the cycling on television and I go out whenever I can to watch road races and we always go to Newport Nocturne which is brilliant. I have watched every stage of the tour so to see it in Whitchurch is marvellous.

“Cavendish is my favourite. He has achieved over and over again and is great at acknowledging the fans.

“It’s a very exciting race and great to see such a high profile sporting event in Shropshire.”

Many spectators had themselves arrived on bikes and were kitted out in cycling gear to watch their heroes.

The crowd fell silent as the Peloton approached with everyone looking for the gold jersey of Sir Bradley.

And once the main man had been spotted people young and old waved Union Flags. Julia Jones, Julie Sumner and Hilary Steward, from Whitchurch, watched the race together.

Ms Jones said: “It’s all been very exciting. It’s great to have had a major sporting event pass through Whitchurch and we wanted to be a part of it.

“We all wanted to See Bradley Wiggins and it’s fabulous to get so close to the action. 

“It’s absolutely great to see so many people out in Whitchurch. It would be great if it could be an annual thing because it really is a prestigious event and one cyclists like Bradley Wiggins really want to win.”

David and Carol Drew, from Wem, were watching the tour for the second year in a row after heading to Cannock Chase last year.

Mr Drew said: “We watched it last year and it is even more local this time round so it’s an opportunity I couldn’t miss. It’s tremendous to have it on your doorstep.”

Spectator Steve Jaggs, from Tibberton, added: “It was absolutely great to see Bradley Wiggins and just how fast the riders go. It was really exciting, I struggled to see Bradley at first because he had his Team Sky top on top of his gold jersey but I had a great view and managed to spot him and Mark Cavendish which was great.”

Traders in Whitchurch said they saw a big increase in sales on the day. Katherine Nixon, from Jones’s Coffee House, said: “We were very busy. The hour before the event was crazy and then we had a short break while people went out to watch, then the next two hours were really busy.

“Everyone has said they are shocked at just how many people were in the town. It has been a very welcome boost in trade and to be honest I wish I had more staff on. There were a lot of tourists and people I didn’t recognise so hopefully now they know about us they will be back.”

The mayor of Whitchurch, Councillor Rob Hewson, added: “The race really brought people into the town.

“I met a lot of them who wanted to explore and see what Whitchurch is all about and what we had on offer.”

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