Hundreds of spectators gathered at the finish line of the inaugural Women’s Tour which completed its first stage in Northampton town centre today (Wednesday).
The race, which began with the Grand Depart in Oundle at 11am, finished in front of Northampton Guildhall just after 1:30pm.
The winner was Emma Johansson of the Australian team Orica AIS, while Northampton cyclist Hannah Barnes was presented with both the Best of British and Best Young Rider jerseys.
After several weeks cycling in America, Miss Barnes, who lives in Towcester and turned 21 last Sunday, said it felt “great” to be racing in her hometown.
She said: “I have been really excited about this race - it’s one of the biggest cycle races for women and to get a good result is pretty special.
“It was great to see all the viewers and schoolchildren out to support us, I barely recognised Northampton with so many people.”
Commenting on the race itself she said: “It was a fast start but I knew Northampton isn’t a flat ride and the finish, especially with the wind, would be a tough uphill drag.
“But I managed to stay in the front group and will hopefully do well enough in the next stages to keep the jerseys all week.”
“I will probably spend tonight resting in bed to prepare myself.”
The Best of British jersey was presented by Paul Ashby on behalf of Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.
The 64-year-old, who used to work in Northampton, said: “The Tour is brilliant and a long time coming - women put in just as much effort as the men and should be equally recognised for it.
“Fundraising through events like these support research into this disease and I will be rooting for Hannah.”
Spectator Wendy Pails who travelled from Berkshire for the occasion said: “I’m here to support the British girls as it’s about time we had a tour like this.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed it and Northampton have put on a very good show.”
Ben Bennett from Daventry added: “We arrived with 5k to go and it has been great, especially to see a lot of the British girls doing well.”
Deputy leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Heather Smith, said: “This has been a wonderful day and I’m so proud of everyone involved and all the people who have helped make this event such a success.
“I would like to congratulate the stage one winner Emma Johansson and say a special well done to our local rider Hannah Barnes who had a great race today.
“This is a significant day for women’s cycling and I’m very pleased to see so many people lining the streets.”
Stage Two of the five-stage Tour will continue through Northamptonshire tomorrow when it goes from Hinckley to Bedford, passing through Brixworth, before culminating in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday.