Tour of Britain: Stoke-on-Trent stage five

Italian cyclist Ivan Basso made a bid for victory in stage five of the Tour of Britain, over 70 miles from home

Thousands of people have watched cyclists including Britain's Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish take part in the Tour of Britain in Stoke-on-Trent.

The race departed from the Italian Gardens on the Trentham Estate and will finish in the city centre.

The 147-km (91 mile) route passes Rugeley, Alton, Warslow and Stockton Brook as well as going on to Cannock Chase.

A tour spokesman said Stoke-on-Trent was "an important part of the route".

AT THE SCENE

On a calm and bright morning in Stoke-on-Trent, crowds steadily gathered in Trentham Gardens hoping to get up, close and personal with the big names of cycling.

They are sport stars who, in a seemingly short space of time, have grown a reputation that borders on rock star status thanks to the Tour de France and Olympics.

With the Paralympics closing less than a week ago the public's appetite for sport is still strong.

By mid morning there was nothing calm about the thousand-plus people in Trentham Gardens.

Chief executive Hugh Roberts said the tour would return to the city as long as people wanted it to.

He said: "We get huge turnouts and big crowds."

This is the fifth successive year the Tour of Britain has visited Stoke-on-Trent with a new-look route being used this time.

The eight-stage competition began in Ipswich on Sunday and will finish in Guildford this Sunday.

Stage one of the Tour of Britain went from Ipswich to Norfolk Showground and the other stages have gone from Nottingham to Knowsley Safari Park, Jedburgh to Dumfries and Carlisle to Blackpool.

Mr Roberts said: "There's no question that there's been a marked increase in the amount of interest in the Tour of Britain both in the spectators and the media."

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