Pedal power in Girvan as cyclists take part in the Tour Doon Hame Cycle race 2012.
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South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure worked together to support the Tour Doon Hame cycle race and see it return to Girvan where it was enjoyed by both participants and spectators.
Hundreds of well wishers, excited smiles, flags, banners, bunting and fun – that was the scene welcoming some 140 professional cyclists to Girvan as they completed stage one of the prestigious Tour Doon Hame Cycle race 2012.
Held over the Easter holiday weekend, the race is part of British Cycling's Premier Calendar Series of Elite Road Racing events and attracts the best road racing riders from across the UK, many of whom have been regular visitors to Girvan before.
Stage two, a fast-paced, fifteen lap, flat-out road race around Victory Park, followed a couple of hours later and got the crowds buzzing as cyclists jostled for pole position often at impossible speeds.
Despite the tired thighs and cramped calf muscles from the 80 mile first stage, the riders responded to the warm South Ayrshire welcome they had received by putting on a feast of cycling excitement for the local crowd, who cheered every push of the pedal and every cyclist as they sped past.
Stage 1 winner Erick Rowsell of Endura pushed hard, but the afternoon belonged to his team mate, Scott Thwaites, who won the Victory Park Criterion Road race in a time of 39 minutes 40 seconds and at an average speed of 25mph.
It was a fabulously entertaining afternoon and the Tour Doon Hame gave the town and local area a fantastic boost, with many riders agreeing the local area is perfectly suited to cycling for riders of all abilities and ages.
South Ayrshire Council Chief Executive David Anderson commented: "We were truly delighted to play our part in bringing the Tour Doon Hame back to Girvan as we're passionate about cycling in South Ayrshire."
"South Carrick in particular, is an area of outstanding natural beauty, where a combination of gentle rolling hills, spectacular coastline and testing country roads offer a wide combination of circuits and routes, with challenges as easy or as difficult as you like – whether you're an occasional cyclist or a seasoned rider.
"The area boasts miles of award-winning cycle paths, clear and concise guides to cycling in South Ayrshire and a warm welcome no matter what stage you're at on your own two wheeled journey and the competitors have certainly experienced this and responded to it in 2012.
"We are committed to encouraging cycling in South Ayrshire, an enthusiasm shared by local people who use our extensive cycle network to travel to and from work and to keep fit and healthy during their leisure time. Our outstanding cycling facilities attract visitors to the area who enjoy exploring South Ayrshire by bike.
"Another exciting cycling event will take place on 31 July when The Graeme Obree Classic Sportive will set off from Auchincruive college. This event has something for all abilities, a 10 mile family ride, a family fun run, a 45 mile intermediate ride and a 65 endurance race.
"In June this year the South Carrick David Bell Memorial Road Race, which is a considered a 'monument' in elite cycle racing, will take place in the villages of Dailly and Straiton – the 'Ayrshire Alps'. For 2012 the event takes on an elevated status as a National A road race, guaranteeing the very best cyclists in the UK who will compete for the £2,000 prize fund. Ayr Roads Cycling Club are working closely with us and South Carrick Community Leisure to ensure an exciting weekend of sporting opportunity in Girvan.
"We aspire to make South Ayrshire a must have cycling destination for people from across the UK and beyond, whether they are recreational cyclists or travelling here to take part in races."
Andrew Sinclair, Chair of South Carrick Community Leisure, said: "The Tour Doon Hame was a terrific way to showcase the fantastic cycling facilities we have here in South Carrick and, combined with the support for the event for the local community, is just a taster of what's to come thanks to the work underway to develop a South Carrick community sports hub.
"Attracting major events like this is an important element in the regeneration of Girvan and South Carrick and we will continue to work with the Council and event organisers to ensure we give a 'hame' to some of the best events around."
Rider Scott Thwaites from the Endura team said: "The Victory Park criterium was one of the best circuits in Britain and a hard test for all the riders especially after the 80 miles in the morning."
Ian Sinclair, Tour Doon Hame organiser and Director of British Cycling concluded: "We've had fantastic co-operation and support from South Ayrshire Council and the reception the riders got when arriving in town was absolutely amazing.
"As organisers, we take pride in offering our competitors the challenge of fresh routes each year and the area in and around Girvan seems to offer something new at every turn – it's a first class area for cycling in every respect and I know some of the riders find it hard not to be distracted by some of the breathtaking scenery they race in.
"I'm grateful to South Ayrshire Council and South Carrick Community Leisure for offering us the opportunity to return to the event's 'spiritual home.'
"British Cycling, the teams and riders are all excited to be in South Ayrshire again and we're already full of enthusiasm and looking forward to working with the Council to develop new and exciting ideas for the Tour Doon Hame 2013."
For more information about The Graeme Obree Classic Sportive on 31 July 2012 log on to www.obree.com/sportive.php.