HUNDREDS of sports fans from across the North West crowded into Chorley to watch the cream of British cycling compete in town’s first Grand Prix event.
The inaugural race saw 143 of the country’s best riders battle it out over five laps of the Chorley countryside, the 116 mile road race taking in Limbrick, Rivington, Belmont, Abbey Village, Withnell, Brinscall, Wheelton and Buckshaw Village.
Clad in lycra and nibbling at energy bars, the riders jostled for position from the start in Park Road at 11am.
Crowds had eagerly gathered all morning for the event, waving flags and rattling clappers to lend their support.
Slaveck Matewski and wife Magdalena Matewska from Chorley, took their children along to watch in Park Road.
Slaveck said: “I’m a big fan of cycling. We went to see the Tour de France in Yorkshire last year, and so we really couldn’t miss this fantastic event on our own doorstep.
“It’s a big thing for the local area and will help raise the profile of sport in the town.”
Lindsey Cooper from Chorley said: “We always watch the Tour de France, so because this was a bike thing we thought we’d come down and have a nosey.
“It’s nice for the kids too because they probably won’t get to see something like this again in their home town.”
Lizzy Schofield, 17, of Buckshaw Village, was in the crowd to support her 19-year-old boyfriend Mark McGavock from Croston, who was competing with High On Bikes.
Lizzy said: “We’re really pleased that Mark is able to compete so close to where we live.”
Phil Reynolds, 40, and son Ethan, 12, from Buckshaw Village, were also in the crowd.
Phil said: “I’m really into cycling and trying to get Ethan into it too.
“We went to Skipton last year for the Tour de France, and often go to the Velodrome in Manchester, so to have this on our doorstep is even better.
“We’ll be spending the whole day here watching what’s going on. It’s a great thing to inspire younsgters.”
Daniel Strudwick, 20 and Nathan Gee, 19, travelled from Droylsden in Manchester to watch the event.
Nathan said: “It’s brilliant to have something like this on the streets.
“It’s like Revolution at the Velodrome, but more accessible to everyone and you don’t have to pay to watch.
“All people have to do is walk into the town or even look out of their bedroom windows to see top athletes.”
Lesley Pape, deputy chief executive of Chorley Building Society, was handing out clappers and flags to spectators.
She said: “We’re delighted to be supporting the event. There’s been a lot of community involvement and so much publicity. It improves the visibility of businesses in the area and promotes the town itself.”
The event was the first in the British Cycling Elite Road Race series, which sees the country’s best riders and teams battle over eight races for individual and team glory.
Highlights from the event are set to be broadcast on Eurosport later this month.