Colour and noise from all over the Black Country for Commonwealth Games cycling time trial

It was a typical Black Country welcome – noisy, enthusiastic and full of humour.

England's Anna Henderson makes her way down Market Street in Wolverhampton
England's Anna Henderson makes her way down Market Street in Wolverhampton

Those packed outside the Clifton pub in Sedgley were enthusiastic in their cheers to every rider, regardless of their nationality.

There were flags, bells and whistles – and one wag with a sign suggesting the riders give the region’s famous orange chips a go. In Penn village a special ‘Welcome to Penn’ sign was on display as the church bells rang at St Bartholomew’s.

Many spectators on the course came prepared with picnic tables and provisions. Hard core cycling fans were joined by families curious to see a world-class time trial pass by the end of their garden.

Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas ended up with bronze after crashing near the start at West Park. It allowed Australian Rohan Dennis to claim gold with England’s Fred Wright in silver.

Earlier, England’s Anna Henderson won silver in the women’s time trial, behind Australia’s Grace Brown.

Fans line up in Sedgley for the time trial

The start line at West Park was a busy place, with the Victorian park transformed into an international sporting arena, with crash barriers along the side of the path leading from the Bandstand and seating set up for those attending the race.

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Former Olympic champion Chris Boardman said the route was challenging because of the hills through the Black Country and South Staffordshire. It also included many sharp turns, leading to a few spills.

He said: “It is a great chance for people to see world class cycling at the end of their driveway. The atmosphere has been tremendous.”

Flags of all colours were being worn by fans arriving at West Park and loud cheers greeted each rider as they set off from the start line next to the bandstand.

It was the same as riders left the park, with fans lining the streets leading into the city and out, with Sedgley, Dudley and the area along Penn Road particularly busy with people watching the race.

Town crier of Bromsgrove Kevin Ward cycled to the event

In West Park, people were arriving early to see the women's race set off, with Olivia Lett from Gibraltar having the honour of getting the race underway at 10.01am.

Janet and David Hickman had travelled on public transport from Rowley Regis to watch the race, with both saying they were big cycling fans and couldn't miss the chance to see the riders in action.

England's Abi Smith gets her time trial underway

Janet said: "I'm very excited to be here, and it's something I've been looking forward to seeing for a long time.

"I think it's been a brilliant idea to bring the Games here as it brings everyone closer to it and we didn't have any issues with getting here as public transport was really good."

Jim Horton from Walsall rides for the Falklands in the time trial

David said: "I think it's a great honour for the West Midlands to put on something as prestigious as this and the world is looking at us now.

"I think the organisation of this has been second to none and it shows that we can put on events like this with no real issues and put on a great show."

The park was a hive of activity, with people enjoying a range of street food and refreshments and having the chance to relax on seating provided by the organisers.

Hugh Porter and Anita Lonsbrough arrive at the Festival site on Market Square

Zenon Szulc had come to the park with his wife Karolina from Low Hill and said he thought the event was great for Wolverhampton.

He said: "As someone who has lived here for the last 12 years and in the Midlands all my life, it's fantastic to set that something is happening not just in Birmingham, but right in Wolverhampton.

"I think, historically, we've always done ourselves down in the Midlands but we should be proud of our area, and what better place to start and finish than from here.

"I understand that it's not for everyone and some people have been restricted by where it is, but a lot of notice was given and I think people should just enjoy it and appreciate the magnificent international sport happening on the doorstep."

Kayleigh Jones and Marcia Allen-Shaw from Greggs show their support in Wolverhampton

As well as people being there to watch the riders as fans, there were also friends and family in the crowd supporting the riders.

Lucy Patterson was part of a group in green "Go Jo" t-shirts supporting her sister, Northern Irish rider Joanna Patterson, and said it was exciting to be there.

She said: "This is such a good place to watch cycling, the weather is really good and my sister is racing so I'm looking forward to seeing her do us proud.

"I've enjoyed being in Wolverhampton as well and the park is a really nice setting, plus it's nice to see the Games heading out of Birmingham and into places like this."

Out in Wolverhampton city centre, the crowds were enjoying the riders going by and basking in warm sunshine.

Kieran Clarke had travelled down from Stoke-on-Trent to watch the race and said he was very impressed by Wolverhampton and the set-up there.

He said: "I came here because I love time trials and I wanted to come here to watch the race, having been there 20 years ago in Manchester.

"I think the city has done a great job of putting this on, and I think there are great benefits to a city like Wolverhampton hosting events like the Commonwealth Games as it puts the eyes of the world on it."

The ruiders worked their way around Wolverhampton city centre

The festival site on Market Square was a vibrant place as well, with hundreds of people gathering to enjoy food, drink, live entertainment and a big screen showing the action.

Those in attendance were also able to cheer on the riders as they passed through at pace, with Isle of Man rider Tyler Hannay's family among those enjoying the festival site.

His sister, Courtney, said they were so proud of him and also said she was enjoying being in Wolverhampton.

She said: "It's our first time in Wolverhampton and it's been absolutely brilliant to be able to come here and support Tyler.

"The crowd have been great as well, cheering him on, as he's only 18 and been up against some really tough guys, so he's done great and we're so proud of him."

The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Councillor Sandra Samuels, was at both the start of the day and the festival site and said she was immensely proud to be at the event.

She said: "As mayor of the city, I am immensely proud and the park looked fantastic and, for me, just to have the Commonwealth Games here is a fantastic opportunity for the city.

"I'm delighted as both mayor and a resident of the city to be here and I've spoken to so many people who have travelled here and enjoyed being in this Victorian park."

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