Steph Cade
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View from the crew: Stage 1 of the Women's Tour

Steph Cade
Posted by
07 May 2014

Blood cancer patients Paul Ashby and Geoff Thomas present the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Best of British jersey to stage one winner, Hannah Barnes.

Ahead of today's first stage of the Friends Life Women’s Tour, London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Lizzie Armistead spoke of Britain being at the forefront of the growth of cycling. When the peloton, made up of some of the world’s finest road racers, approached the finish line of Stage One at Northampton today, greeted by hundreds of flag waving fans, it was easy to see why this was the case. Everyone was excited (and not just because a nearby restaurant were handing out dough balls).

After all the riders had sped through the finish, leukaemia patient Paul Ashby, and former England footballer and leukaemia survivor, Geoff Thomas presented the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Best of British jersey to Hannah Barnes, the fastest British rider.

She said that winning the Best of British jersey meant a lot: “To take away the jersey from the first day is pretty great. I have been in America for three months and I keep going on about how much I miss home. To ride into Northampton, with all the people there, was great. I knew the roads, it was quite an advantage.”

Paul, who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocyctic leukaemia (CLL) in September 2010, said: "It was a great experience. I used to work in Northampton so it's good to be back here and to experience the Women's Tour."

Geoff Thomas, who is an ambassador for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, added: “The Women's Tour is a great example of the popularity of cycling in this country. Hopefully these women who have raced past us today will inspire many young girls to get on their bike and stay fit.”

The anticipation and buzz created in the lead-up to the Women’s Tour was justifiable – the event was the first of its kind in the UK, a milestone in recognition for the strength and popularity of women’s cycling not just in this country, but worldwide. Today the interest just intensified, and with another four stages coming up over the next few days, it looks set to be a very special event for all involved.

Don't forget you can catch highlights  of the day's Tour action, every night at 9pm on ITV4.

Bring on Stage 2 tomorrow!