Record support for the Tour de Yorkshire evoked memories of the Grand Départ in 2014, according to Sir Gary Verity.
The Welcome to Yorkshire boss revealed that an estimated 2.6m people lined the route of this year’s race to make the first instalment of the race as a four-day spectacle a record breaker.
On the final day of the race alone, when the action wove its way between Halifax and Leeds, some 900,000 spectators are thought to have been cheering on at the roadside.
Sir Gary, Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive, said: “I’m so proud of the last four days. It takes such a lot of work to make this race happen. All the highways teams and local authorities across Yorkshire worked so hard to make sure everything was ready and we’re hugely grateful to the emergency services as well.
“This race wouldn’t be what it is without our great partners, and of course, I like to say a massive thank you to all the male and female riders who came and produced such a gripping event. Greg Van Avermaet was a more than worthy winner and that gutsy ride from Stéphane Rossetto will live long in the memory.
“Finally, I have to mention the crowds as well. Once again, they were utterly unbelievable and it was like being back at the 2014 Tour de France. Every start and finish was absolutely rammed and there were so many high points along the route that I’ll need to take a few days to let it all sink in.”
Belgian rider Van Avermaet took the overall win despite Frenchman Rossetto snatching victory on day four following an audacious solo attack with 120km of the brutally tough route still to go.
Rossetto was also taken by the “amazing crowd”, saying: “It’s been like riding the Tour de France over the last four days.”
And Van Avermaet said: “The fans were amazing, and for the whole four days actually. I remember from the Tour de France, and when I last raced here in 2015, what it was like, and with this sunny weather even more fans came out. It was really special.”