usually quiet corner of the borough was transformed into a major visitor
attraction this weekend as thousands packed the roads and moorland by
Blackstone Edge Reservoir to watch the Tour de France on Sunday.
A crowd in excess of 20,000 had lined the route by the time the ‘caravan’ arrived – the traditional travelling circus of sponsors’ vehicles that heralds the peloton’s arrival – featuring both French and British brands.
It was certainly a day to remember for the colourful crowds as well as the riders – with constant cheers and a carnival atmosphere. Any fears of rain were unfounded, as Littleborough basked in summer sunshine for most of the day.
Businesses in the area reported a welcome boost from the world’s largest free sporting event on their doorstep, with bars, restaurants and accommodation providers particularly busy. The nearby White House Pub, Moorcock Inn and the Rake Tapas Bar all reported being exceptionally busy all day and into the evening. Local shops, including bakeries and newsagents, also described it as their busiest day in years.
Linda Fisher, Acting Chief Executive at Rochdale Borough Council, said it was a memorable day and a huge success:
“The atmosphere was unforgettable. This is a beautiful part of the world and it’s been great to get exposure to such a massive audience on the world stage. I hope many will come back and visit the area again for cycling and leisure. I’d like to thank local businesses, our schools and the community for embracing the Tour de France and to our staff and partners who have once again done a magnificent job. We want to use the Tour de France to remind people that there are some brilliant cycle routes in this area, some first class accommodation and to make the most of all our countryside. Excitement and interest in cycling has never been greater so it’s a perfect opportunity. Cycling has the potential to really help us promote healthy living, increasing green travel, boosting tourism and our local economy as well as bringing communities together, as you have seen today.”
In addition to the route itself, fun activities, live music and a big screen in Harehill Park attracted huge crowds. There were stalls from local businesses offering activities and crafts and entertainment was provided before and after the race.
Councillor Peter Williams, Deputy Council Leader, said it was an amazing once in a lifetime experience:
“The support we got from so many thousands of people who decided to come here to watch the world’s best cyclists was superb. The whole area has been so busy these last few days … I don’t think we have ever seen crowds like it, which is great for the businesses and for the profile of the borough. We will be taking a close look at the economic return over the coming weeks but it already appears that it will have exceeded expectations.”
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