Tour leaves a sporting legacy

Dacorum was placed firmly on the map on Friday, as the borough hosted its biggest ever sporting event.

Hundreds of people lined the streets to watch as history unfolded in the area, with the 10th modern Tour of Britain pedalling through Berkhamsted and Potten End on its way to a sixth stage finish in Hemel Hempstead.

The stage finish of the Tour of Britain from Bath to Hemel Hempstead

The stage finish of the Tour of Britain from Bath to Hemel Hempstead

The gruelling 200km started in Bath the same morning, and it took the elite group of riders just 20 minutes to wheel their way from Berkhamsted to the finish line.

Among those eager to see the sportsmen crossing the finish line was Dacorum mayor Allan Lawson, who said: “It’s fantastic for the borough. It’s really something we’ve been looking forward to very much, and to look at all the people out was amazing.”

Dacorum Borough Council leader Andrew Williams, also behind the barriers on the day, said: “To get an event like this coming to Dacorum is something for people to really support. It’s a national event and we’ve had lots of television coverage, which is really good for the borough.”

Whizzing towards winning position for the sixth stage – one of the longest and toughest of the week-long Tour – was Austrian Matthias Brandle.

It was also an incredible result on the day for Briton Alex Dowsett who, despite coming second, had the chance to wear the yellow jersey.

He described Friday’s cycle as ‘one of the hardest days I’ve ever had on the bike’, but also praised the huge turnout of supporters from the area.

He said: “The whole stage was amazing. I’ve never ridden in a race where so many people were shouting my name at the side of the road, even if it was a little frustrating hearing some people shout, ‘Go Wiggo!’ But it was incredible, I have never known anything like it.”

Borough-based businesses also geared up for the big event by dressing their windows for the occasion. Shoe and fashion accessory retailer Shu Shu was chosen as Berkhamsted’s winner with several others including Zebra, the Hospice of St Francis store Number Twenty, Berkhamsted Imaging Centre amd the town’s Oxfam also taking part.

The Tour’s visit is hoped to leave a legacy in the borough by kickstarting sport and healthy lifestyle scheme called Get Set Go Dacorum.