Huge crowds welcome elite cycling back to Sheffield city centre
Date: 26/07/2012. Story submitted by: Gael Stigant
Cycling returned to Sheffield city centre on Wednesday night for the first time in nearly quarter of a century.
Huge crowds gathered around the 1.4km course to watch the UK’s top cyclists battle it out in the finals of the women’s national circuit race championships and then the men’s elite circuit race series.
In the men’s race, the riders hurtled around the circuit at breathtaking speeds and in the final laps the spectators went wild as South Yorkshire lads Graham Briggs and Russell Downing powered to the finish line in first and second place respectively.
Afterwards Russell, from Rotherham, said: “It was a great race. It’s always good to come back to Sheffield – the last time I was here was for the Tour of Britain.
"I was third in that one and tonight I was second, so maybe next time I’ll win!
“I was disappointed not to win but I wasn’t disappointed to come second to Graham.
"He’s a local guy from Doncaster, he’s a man on form and he was always going to be the man to beat.”
In the women’s race, Lucy Garner of Node 4 Giordana women’s team was the winner, with Eileen Roe of Team Ibis Cycles in second and Amy Roberts of Scott Contessa Epic in third.
Competitor Kayleigh Brogan, 20, said: “It was amazing. The crowd was massive and it’s totally not what I expected.
"It shows cycling has taken off in Britain now. Usually you have to travel to Europe to get crowds like that so it’s amazing we’ve had it here."
The event was the first time cycling had come to Sheffield city centre since 1988.
Five times British women’s road race champion Marie Morgan (formerly Purvis), said: “To be hosting such a prestigious event in the centre of Sheffield is a real coup.
"Cycling at all levels is going from strength to strength and it's an activity that everybody can do.
“I only started cycling at the age of 26 and with a lot of hard work was selected to represent Great Britain at the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics.”
The event had a number of sponsors including Nonna’s restaurant and the Claremont Hospital, which has a history of supporting local sports teams as well as a professional cycling team.
The hospital’s former director, Tony Barrett, who started the men’s race, said: “I think Sheffield is a fantastic cycling city and I think we need to make more of it.
"Sheffield has so much potential to turn into a bigger success. It’s got a great location, a vibrant cycling club scene and we have a number of professional cyclists.”
Mark Barry, technical director of the race, said: “The best cyclists in Britain come from Sheffield and as a Leeds lad that takes some saying.
"Sheffield has a great history of bike racing and as we can see from the backdrop around us it’s a fantastic area.”
Address: Pinstone Street Sheffield S1 2HH
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