THE Bradley Wiggins effect was in full force in Sheffield last night as the city got a taste of the Tour de France.
Thousands of people turned out to watch as the city centre played host to the final round of the British Elite Circuit Race series and the Women’s National Circuit Race Championships.
The event marked the return of the high-profile Grand Prix series to Sheffield, and it was one which was welcomed by the fans swept with cycling fever following Brit Wiggins’ history-making victory in the sport’s biggest competition.
Spectators eager to watch scenes similar to those which gripped the nation during last week’s race lined the streets in Furnival Gate, Arundel Gate and Norfolk Street.
The action got underway with the women’s 1.4km race, which saw local girl Jessie Walker, 17, from Aston taking part.
Her proud grandmother Sybill Wilson was perched on a seat at the finish line at Pinstone Street to cheer her on.
Sybill, 79, from Eckington, Derbyshire, said: “I go and watch her races but it’s great to see this being held in Sheffield.”
As cyclists whizzed past at ferocious speeds, members of the crowd clapped and cheered them on to the finish line on Pinstone Street. And in true spirit of the occasion, some spectators had got on their bikes to travel to the event.
For bike-mad Paul Arnold, 37, it was the continuation of a cycling-filled week. The father-of-two from Walkley, Sheffield arrived back in the city from France - where he had been to watch the Tour minutes before the racing was due to start.
He said: “I’m here with my auntie and uncle. They’re both in their 80s and they’re still cycling. They brought my daughters to meet me. I’ve literally just got back from Paris. I’m trying to get them into cycling.
“I remember this being in Sheffield when I was 12 or 13 and I came to watch then. It’s great to see it back.”
Neil Pearman, 44 and wife Tracy, 37, travelled from their home in Sprotbrough, Doncaster with children Sophie, 11, Ethan, nine and six-year-old Timothy to watch.
Keen cyclist Neil said: “I love cycling but we all loved watching the Tour de France. The kids have never seen a cycle race before so they were very excited to come and watch the professionals whizzing past. I’m trying to get them into cycling and think this will help.”
Sophie said: “I was cheering Bradley Wiggins on in the Tour de France so I’m going to cheer them on in Sheffield too.”
Alison White, 55, of Chapeltown, Sheffield, brought motorsport-loving son John along to watch.
She said: “I think it’s probably Bradley Wiggins’ win which brought us here but it’s just nice to support anything that is happening in the city. There is so much going on at the minute. This is another string to its bow.”