The people of Sheffield will ‘remember this day for the rest of their lives’ – that was the verdict after a spectacular Tour de France saw millions of people pour into Sheffield for the world-famous event.
Spectators lined streets across the city – with crowds packing streets in Oughtibridge, Bradfield, Wincobank, Hillsborough and Attercliffe.
The race went off without a hitch and saw Italian rider Nibali Vincenzo take the stage win in front of thousands of people at the finish line outside the Motorpoint Arena.
Team Sky rider Geraint Thomas said: “It was tough, it was challenging, the running was hard and I’m pretty shattered now. My legs feel just dead.
“But it has been a really, really good reception from the crowds – unbelievable. Going up Holme Moss I had goosebumps it was that good.
“I can’t describe it, it was just an amazing feeling.”
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome To Yorkshire, said: “It was awesome, wasn’t it?
“Everybody said ‘would the people of Sheffield really want the Tour de France and really embrace it?’ You’ve had your answer.
“The crowds have come out in their hundreds of thousands and it has been the most incredible day.
“People will remember this day for the rest of their lives.
“It’s done a number of things for Yorkshire. There are people around the world who had never heard of Yorkshire or certainly didn’t know how beautiful it was – they do now.
“The riders loved it, the organisers have never seen anything as incredible. “The director of the Tour de France said he thinks there have been up to five million people watching the race over the last two days and there were huge numbers in South Yorkshire yesterday. It’s been incredible.”
Sir Rodney Walker, chairman of the TDFHUB 2014 Ltd, which was set up to oversee £10 million of Government funding to bring the Tour to England, said: “It’s just remarkable.
“The public of Yorkshire have done everything we could have asked and a bit more besides.
“The people of Sheffield have turned out.
“Sheffield is more spread out than York or Harrogate, so you don’t see the numbers in such a concentrated form, but there’s been just as many people turn out in Sheffield.
“Coming down from Holme Moss into Sheffield, the streets were lined – what more could you ask for?
“The fact that there’s a headline in one of the French newspapers that said ‘Yorkshire, 10 out of 10’, I think says it all.”
The event attracted crowds to Sheffield from across the globe – from as far and wide as Slovakia, Australia and the USA.
Lizzi Holman-Brady, aged 31, travelled to Sheffield to see the race.
She spent her honeymoon watching the Tour with husband Stuart, 32, in France, last year.
Lizzi, from Nottingham, said: “It has been absolutely fantastic. It’s been better here than it was in France.
“There are more people and more things to do and the race signage and organisation is better too.”
David Drew, aged 65, from Hunters Bar, said: “It has brought everyone together – there is such a special atmosphere and it’s a great feeling to be here.
“To be able to see the likes of Chris Froome in your home town, it’s pretty special.”
Lucia Kamenska, aged 35, travelled from Bratislava, Slovakia, to watch the race and was at the finish line with sister-in-law Marta and husband Michal.
She said: “We travelled here just for the Grand Depart. It’s a great atmosphere and an amazing event.”
Of course, there were a few hiccups – trams had to be suspended at Meadowhall due to sheer numbers of people flooding into the station, while queues stretched for miles at the Arena stop.
A man was also injured and taken to hospital after a fight at Wincobank Common.
Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “I’m proud that we showed off the very best of Sheffield to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flooded in, whilst an estimated 3.5 billion people from around the world will have tuned in to see the riders cycling through our streets.
“It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
“We proved that Sheffield is a world-class destination for sport, culture, tourism and business.
“Residents and local businesses in Bradfield, Worrall and the wider area pulled out all the stops.
“I’m sure the legacy will see more people coming to visit us, more business being done here and more people inspired to get on their bikes.”
Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith said: “I am really proud it came through my constituency, I know the route really well and how impressive it is and how tough it must have been.
“It has been the event of a lifetime.”