The weather held up quite well today for Bedlington's part in the 2009 Tour of Britain Cycle Race. Now one of the star events in Britain's sporting calendar. Our town features at around the 118Km mark, a bit short of four fifths of the way into Stage Two "“ day two of the eight day event. Bedlington is the one Northumberland town that is no stranger to the bicycle. Prior to WW2 a significant number of Bedlingtonians were employed in cycle manufacture, and the town's produce was shipped worldwide. Though the modern materials used in today's super-light bikes (not to mention their cost) would have amazed the makers of those sturdy work-bikes.
Starting out from Darlington at 10:15am then swinging inland towards Stanley, Co Durham, Stage 2 of The Tour negotiates the high ground around Burnopfield before descending towards the Tyne near Ryton.
The route North of the Tyne strikes out from Wylam; heads across the West Road North to Belsay; then along the Walton to Morpeth Road; leaves Morpeth along the Hepscott road to our Nedderton Village before heading down the Front Street and Bedlington Bank towards Bebside. Southward from Blyth the final leg is from Seaton Sluice to Gateshead quayside, routing there through Cullercoats, North Shields and Wallsend.
The total time for the stage is estimated at three hours and thirty seven minutes to cover a distance of 153.3 Km. That's an average speed of almost 42.4 Km/h or over 26.3 mph. Considering the terrain and the many tight bends, features deliberately increased this year, that's a pretty amazing pace to maintain for so very long.
Crowds on the Front Street first spied the distinctive red strip of Jim's Cycles, but it's believed this entrant never made the Swing Bridge and Gateshead quayside finish as he was seen tracking back up the street shortly after the race passed through. Jim's Cycles is to be awarded the 2009 Bedlington.co.uk Prize for Attempted Product Placement. Though "“ as TV coverage petered out well West of Morpeth, and the ITV ground crew only just made Horton Road, Bebside in time to snatch a brief shot "“ this enterprising local effort never got on-air!
In the real race: first onto the Front Street was 24 year old Dutchman Kai Reus, in a lead pack of three also including Thomas De Gendt of Belgium, and Tanel Kangert of Estonia. The peloton (main leading group) of about sixty riders rounded the Red Lion only about one and a quarter minutes later.
Towards the end of the race Kai Reus, part of the Rabobank team with their highly visible orange and light blue kit, managed to hold off his challengers and crossed the Swing Bridge just seconds ahead. "It's my first victory in two years, but it's a long story"¦. It was a really hard last ten kilometres for me, maybe for the peloton also." said Kai in a post-race interview.
You can follow the final six days of the race on the official web site at http://www.tourofbritain.co.uk and see more local pictures in our gallery.
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