The world’s best female cyclists powered through Kenilworth on Thursday June 17 as part of Stage 2 of the Aviva Women’s Tour.
90 riders all came down Warwick Road at once battling each other and the persistent rain for maximum points in a frenetic sprint section.
Finnish rider Lotta Lepisto crossed the finish line first ahead of then overall race leader Christine Majerus.
Spectator and cycling fan Jane Boyce, who went to watch the Tour de France back in 1975, said: “It’s very memorable for all the children that are here.”
Fellow cycling fan Steve Broatch said the sprint section through Kenilworth was “very exciting”. He added: “It gives you a sense of perspective as to just how fast they ride.”
Before the riders got to Kenilworth, the town was busy preparing for their arrival and entertaining people who had braved the rain to get a good spot.
Volunteer marshals from Kenilworth Lions and Rotary were briefed at around 10am by race organisers SweetSpot on their role in the race.
The Square also had its usual market, but this time had a few cycling-related stalls.
Mike Vaughan Cycles had set up a stationary bike for people to try a one-mile challenge against the clock.
Paul Smith, who works at the shop, said: “It’s nice to have the town brought to attention in this way.”
Town mayor Cllr Michael Coker, who got on the bike himself, said: “It’s an honour for the town to host it. We thought we might as well not only enjoy it but use it to promote the town.
“It will also hopefully encourage people to cycle and get out and about.”
Crowds began to amass along the route through Kenilworth at about 10.30am, when the heavy rain began to ease off slightly.
A marshal drew a rudimentary finish line at the end of the sprint section opposite Sainsburys, which drew several laughs from bemused spectators, who thought it might have been a bit more hi-tech.
Several police officers on motorbikes enforced the rolling roadblock about 10 minutes before the riders came, prompting the crowd to get their phones and cameras out in anticipation of the approaching peloton.
The riders came round the roundabout from Castle Road down to Warwick Road just before 11am, and powered down Warwick Road with the crowd roaring them on.
Three riders were noticeably in contention for first place, but Lepisto just pipped Majerus to take maximum points. The rest of the peloton was not far behind, and all of them had passed within about 30 seconds.
The eventual race winner at the end of the stage in Stratford was Dutch rider Amy Pieters, who barely finished ahead of last year’s champion Lisa Brennauer.