THE town turned out in their hundreds to watch cycling superstars Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish storm through the streets of Ashbourne.
Traffic was brought to a halt as the Tour of Britain passed through Ashbourne, for the first time since 2004, on the second leg of the popular cycle race.
Riders followed dozens of police and event support bikes in two packs — a small group of leaders followed around three minutes later by the main pack, containing Wiggins, Cavendish and their competitors.
From Belper Road, where the cyclists started to leave the rural roads and enter the town, riders pedalled through Park Road, climbed Hall Lane and negotiated the tight turn into the top of Market Place from King Street before passing huge crowds lining the steep and narrow Buxton Road.
People waved flags, banners and cheered for their heroes — who were little more than an hour into their leg of around 111 miles, finishing at Knowsley Safari Park shortly after 2pm.
Spectator Andrea Walker, who was watching the race from the end of King Street, said: “This is possibly a once in a lifetime chance to see an Olympic gold medallist.” Margaret Beardmore also summed up the excitement of the day. She said: “It’s very exciting and it’s a privilege to see it. I think they have done extremely well and it’s not likely we’ll see another Olympic gold medallist come through Ashbourne again.” The second leg, which began at 10am on Monday with a circuit of Nottingham City Centre, saw some gruelling challenges for the riders, with the first category one SKODA King of the Mountains climb of the tour taking place in Turnditch and another climb beginning on the A515 before the pack headed into Staffordshire through Alstonefield.
The race levelled off as the riders headed for Hulme End and the Manifold Valley before powering into Cheshire for the final stretch towards Knowsley.
Sprint master, Bradley Wiggins’ Sky team mate Mark Cavendish, started leg two with a strapped-up shoulder, after he was involved in a frightening crash metres from the sprint on Sunday’s first leg in Norfolk and he went on to miss out on a second-leg win by a few feet, conceding to Australian Leigh Howard.