THOUSANDS of people packed Colne town centre to watch the Colne Grand Prix bike race on Wednesday - and it was surprisingly warm and sunny.
There is now proof that if you take part in the local race you can go on and be set to win the Tour de France.
Bradley Wiggins has established that after he was second at the Colne event in 2004!
The evening opened with a regional A support race which gave up and coming competitors the chance to have a go.
The route started by the library in Market Street, then went down Newtown Street and along Craddock Road. It then went back up on to Market Street. The roads were closed to traffic throughout the evening, of course.
The winner was Ollie Wood, Bill Nickson came second – also doing the fastest lap – and Francis Pilkington was third.
This race was followed by a thoroughly entertaining Le Mans-style Great British Chopper Race organised by Pendle Rally Chopper Group. The riders had to race to their choppers then ride round the route.
This time, it was Jimmy McFadyen (34), from Colne, who won. Second was Carl Pawson, from Foulridge, and third was Ian Ashworth, from Trawden.
Then people who had already carried Olympic Torches made their way round the route with them again.
Firstly there was Lucy Cowgill, Alice Martindale and Jade Brindle. Then they were followed by Pendle Council executive director Mr Brian Cookson – who is national president of British Cycling – and Mr Raymond Townsend.
By the time the key race was due it had got slightly darker, cooler and cloudier, but there were still loads watching.
And it went very well. The riders raced round town at amazing speed. Graham Briggs and Russell Hampton were very much in front and on the last lap it was Russell who made it first through the finish. Dean Downing, who had won it in the past, was third.
The Mayor and Mayoress of Pendle, Coun. Asjad Mahmood and his wife, Samina, presented the trophies and Going Dutch flowers on the podium, where the winners fired champagne.
As well as the top titles in the three races, Martin Woffindin, from Cycle Sport Pendle, was the best local rider and Hannah Barnes was best female rider.
Dean Downing, who has been pretty unfit this season, said: “It’s always a great race here.” And he made it clear he was pleased to be back on the podium.
And Russell said: “It’s a good circuit for me round here. I’ve really enjoyed it,” He was also pleased that people had supported it.
Brian Cookson was pleased with the way it went, too. He said: “It’s been another successful event with big crowds, and the weather held out. We’ve seen some excellent racing.”
He was pleased that previous competitors at Colne Grand Prix – Steven Burke and Bradley Wiggins – had now risen to the highest of levels and compete fantastically in Tour de France or Olympics.
Pendle Council chief executive Mr Stephen Barnes said: “I’m delighted it’s been such a successful evening and I’m much more delighted the sun has shone while so many people were watching it.”
And the Mayor added: “It’s been fantastic. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s great to see lots of people here supporting the event. We recognise that Brian Cookson has done a lot for Colne and for Pendle - he increases their profile!”
• Although he is currently in the Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins will be back in Pendle shortly. On August 19th, there is a Ride With Brad Sportlive, starting and finishing at Victory Park in Barnoldswick. More details later.