HUNDREDS of curious Kirkcaldy folk joined cycling enthusiasts and visitors from further afield to watch as the Halfords Tour took over the town centre for the opening race of the 2012 series.
It was the Tour’s first visit to Scotland, so it was a major coup for Kirkcaldy.
An estimated crowd of 2500 to 3000 turned out and there was a big appetite among the spectators to bring the race back in future years.
The build-up to the main event included an afternoon of school and youth races, and a community parade featuring toddlers, tandems and a laid-back rider on a recumbent bike.
Natalie Cowan (11), a Pathhead Primary pupil, was the winner of a competition to design the starter’s flag. She got the main race underway in the evening, while a group of her school mates, encouraged by a super-enthusiastic compere, battered the hoardings to make as much noise as possible each time the cyclists shot past along the Esplanade at speeds in excess of 40mph.
Spectators lining the route witnessed thrills and spills as cyclists occasionally pushed their bikes over the limit.
The tight turn from the Esplanade into High Street saw several crashes, with one cyclist bringing another down before the chasing pack rode over the top of his bike.
Perhaps the bravest rider was Team Raleigh’s Daniel Holloway who suffered a suspected dislocated collarbone, yet got back on his bike and received a special cheer from the crowd as he crossed the finishing line.
“Kirkcaldy needs more events like this. I’m a keen cyclist but this is the first time I’ve seen a cycle race. It’s really good and it’s brought more people into the town.”
Davie Allan, Kirkcaldy.
“Well done Kirkcaldy. I don’t know how they got it because events like this usually go to big cities, but they’ve done a great job. I’ve been to big races in Luxembourg, Belgium and France, and the organisation of this event compares well with those.”
John Morris, Glenrothes, a former club cycle racer.
“I read about it in the Fife Free Press, but it could have been better advertised elsewhere. I’m proud to be out at an event supporting Kirkcaldy and Fife.”
Bob Paterson, Dysart, who watched with his wife Karen and son Ryan (10).
“It’s great to be able to publicise cycling and put Kirkcaldy on the map. There was a big mix of people and abilities - but I was embarrassed by small children passing me!”
Community parade participant Mike Young, of Talking Tandems.
“It was really hard but it was really good going round. The climb at the back of Tesco was tough.”
Sam Bruce (12), of Balwearie High, who took part in the pupils’ race.
“I would have liked to have gone round a few more times.”
Ben Jarrett (11), Kirkcaldy North Primary