An estimated five-figure crowd turned out for one of Barrow’s most memorable ever sporting occasions on Thursday night as professional cycling returned to Cumbria.

Event organisers have estimated that 10,000 people attended the Pearl Izumi Tour Series BAE Systems Barrow round, where the town centre was transformed into an incredible 1.1km cycling circuit for the day. Community races involving disabled children, local schools and amateur racers both young and old took place throughout the afternoon before the main event – the Tour Series.

Fantastic weather, a carnival atmosphere and great organisation all combined to make it an unforgettable occasion, with the town of Barrow marking its place as a special venue for the growing phenomenon of professional cycling.

The riders in the main race averaged nearly 43kph over the 80-minute challenge. The individual winner on the night was Graham Briggs of the Rapha Condor JLT team, who received a trophy made of Honister slate from race sponsors Cumbria County Council and took his team into pole position as Series leaders. Second-placed rider Tom Scully’s team Madison Genesis were the team winners on the night, with all five riders awarded model Astute-class submarines from co-sponsors BAE Systems.

Race winner Graham Briggs said: “It was a great night and fantastic to see so many people coming out to support us. With the success of previous Tour of Britain events, cycle racing is a big thing in Cumbria and it’s great for the sport to have this kind of backing.”

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Double Olympic Gold medallist Ed Clancy was part of the Series-leading team Rapha Condor JLT. He said it was the first time he had ever visited Barrow, but the town had really impressed him with its enthusiasm for the Series:

“You never know what you’re going to get with a first-time venue, but the spectators really helped make it. It was a great circuit – deceptively hard, with a lot of stop/start, so you were always having to either hit the gas or the brakes. The support races earlier in the day got everyone in the mood and were a good way of using the circuit. Hopefully Barrow will want us back again in the future, it’s a really nice place.”

Partners involved in staging the event with the Pearl Izumi Tour Series organisers SweetSpot included event sponsor Cumbria County Council, co-sponsor BAE Systems, Barrow Borough Council and emergency services including the police, who reported a trouble-free, good-natured event.

Cllr Geoff Cook, Chairman of Cumbria County Council, was the official race starter alongside 12-year-old Walney resident Sydney Atkinson, who won a competition run by the local media partner North West Evening Mail to design the starter’s flag. Cllr Cook said:

"It was a great evening and fantastic to see the organisers of The Tour of Britain back in Cumbria with this unique Tour Series event, which we’ve never experienced before. Barrow has helped to cement Cumbria’s reputation as a great place for professional cycling, with enthusiastic crowds, good organisation and brilliant landscapes to hold the events. We’ll have done ourselves a lot of favours with the organisers of The Tour of Britain as they consider future venues for future years.”

Prior to the race, lead local sponsor BAE Systems held a recruitment fair in the town centre on the day to highlight major recruitment opportunities coming up at the company. It was a major success, with around 1,200 people coming along to find out more about working there.

Simon Wood, Finance Director at BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines, said:

"The whole day, from the recruitment fair to the races, was amazing from a BAE Systems perspective. It has really helped put Barrow on the map. The town was transformed and it was brilliant to be part of the whole event. The archive image of thousands of people leaving the shipyards on their bikes is an icon for the town, but we’ve never seen anything like the spectacle of professional racers hurtling along our streets at incredible speeds. We’d love to see similar events coming back to Barrow in the future.”

BAE Systems was also involved in helping to supply and co-ordinate the scores of volunteers to help with crowd management and organisation. Around 60 volunteers from Rotary Club of Furness, Barrow Submariners Association, BAE Systems, Barrow AFC Stewards and Barrow Borough Council did a fantastic job of helping to stage the race.

Mayor of Barrow Cllr Marie Derbyshire was also involved in the prize giving ceremonies, and said:

“It was my first engagement in Barrow as Mayor and it was absolutely fantastic. It was well organised, the crowd were excellent and the atmosphere was electric. I was proud of the town, the welcome they gave the teams and the huge numbers that turned out in support. The Tour eries were so impressed by this welcome they would love to come back.”

Cumbria Constabulary helped ensure that the event met all the necessary safety criteria for such a large public event. Inspector Matt Pearman of Cumbria Constabulary, said:

“We are delighted at how the day transpired. With no incidents of note related to the event, we are pleased that the thousands of people in attendance enjoyed themselves safely and responsibly in the sunshine.”

Hugh Roberts, Chief Executive of organisers SweetSpot, said:

“Once again we received a fantastic Cumbrian welcome and had great crowds, a really good atmosphere and a well-organised event in a spectacular location. We’ve developed a really strong relationship with the county and district councils over the years we’ve held events here and look forward to continuing to work with them in future years as we map out venues for more events in forthcoming years.”

All roads in Barrow were reopened by Cumbria County Council highways officers by 10.30pm following the event, an hour and a half ahead of schedule..

Highlights of the BAE Systems Barrow round will be shown on ITV4 at 8pm on Friday 16th May, with a repeat at 8am on Saturday morning.