CROWDS of cycling fans lined the streets of Colchester and Clacton on Friday to catch a blink-and-you-will-miss-it glimpse of some of the world’s best bikers.

The Women’s Tour kicked off its Stage 5 section from Colchester’s Northern Gateway Sports Park before travelling through the historic town centre.

The pack of professional cyclists then pedalled towards Clacton’s Marine Parade West, taking in the likes of Great Bromley, Elmstead Market, and Manningtree.

Prior to their arrival in the seaside town cycling legend Mark Cavendish made a guest appearance where he spoke about the importance of women’s cycling.

He said: “The girls that are racing now, most of them will not see the benefits of what they are doing to improve female cycling, which is sad.

“I think the biggest thing they can take from it is the legacy they will leave for my daughter and girls in the future who want to race a bike professionally.”

Shortly after, the close-knit pack of riders sprinted towards the finish line in front of hundreds of spectators who witnessed Dutch racer Lorena Wiebes take the win.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Claire Boston, of Maldon, attended the event with Becky and Claire Ashworth, both of Colchester, after they cycled to the start line in Colchester.

She said: “It is brilliant that something like this is going on because it supports women in cycling so we thought we would come and support the women.

“Women’s cycling is massively important and it should be on prime time television and it should be live as well, not just the highlights in the evening.”

Keen cyclist Oak Weld, of Colchester, decided to make the most of his day off work to travel to Clacton to witness the sprint finish.

He said: “I wanted to come here to cheer on the women because they are doing wonders for the cycling world.

“I got really into cycling during lockdown and I have lost about two stone in weight and I have about 10 bikes myself - I just love cycling.

“I came to absorb the atmosphere because I just think it is really cool and the speed the cyclists fly past at is just amazing.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

Nick Lawson, 63, made the trip to Clacton from Southend having caught Stage 4 of the tour the previous day in his home town.

“We saw it in Southend on the Thursday so we thought we would come up on the train to Clacton to see it again,” he added.

“I would not say I am a massive cycling fan but I have seen it on the television quite a few times and it just looks like really good fun.

“They are just brilliant events and the organisation that goes into them must be astronomical – they are good for sightseeing too because we walked up from Walton.

“The whole thing is just brilliant and it is great to see so many people out here enjoying it.”