While large numbers of spectators lined the streets around Mowbray Park in anticipation of watching some of the country’s top domestic cyclists, parents and children were also able to enjoy a range of games hosted by Active Sunderland including stilt walking, swingball, hula hooping and bean bag throwing.
The crowds of spectators were also entertained with live music and an incredible bicycle stunt display from 3SIXTY.
Returning for the second successive year was Ryhope mum Lucy Greenwell, 42, and son Archie Bailey, three.
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Lucy said: “It was really good last year. Archie loved it and so we decided to come back. We’ve been stilt walking, playing swingball and the giant Connect 4 game, and Archie loved the stunt bike show.
"It’s brilliant to have such a high profile event return to the city, particularly after the restrictions of Covid.”
Ross Martin, 41, was enjoying the activities with daughter Kora, seven.
He said: “We’re looking forward to the cycling but it’s great to have all these free activities for the children to do. Kora really enjoyed the stunt bike display. It’s good to see people enjoying themselves after the Covid pandemic.”
Kora added: “I’ve had lots of fun and I’m looking forward to the cycling.”
Emma Bryan, 28, was also returning with children Ben, 10, and Elyssa, eight, after “they loved it last year”.
She said: “It’s great to see a big event back in the city. I think last year’s was the first in the city after lockdown.”
Ben added: “I’ve had lots of fun and I can’t wait to see the stunt bike show.”
The races also attracted a number of keen amateur cyclists, who wanted to see the elite riders in action, but were also lapping up the pre-race entertainment.
Simon Bowe, 56, had peddled around 20 miles from Burnopfield in County Durham.
He said: “I’ve watched the first two legs in Guisborough and Galashiels on the television and it’s great to see an elite cycling event back in the city. It’s also great to see all the activities and entertainment to attract families which will help get more kids into cycling.”
It was a sentiment shared by David McCafferty, 41, who’d cycled into the city from Peterlee.
He said: “I think the event is great for the local area and anything which brings people into the city can only be good for the economy.”
Also enjoying the pre-race atmosphere was the City Mayor, Cllr Harry Truman, who said: “I’m here to start the race and it’s great to see the Series return for a second year. As well as the racing there’s lots of activities for families to enjoy and it’s great to see people out and enjoying themselves again after the restrictions of Covid.”
The Tour Series follows on from the weekend’s Sunderland City Runs.
Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is one of a number of major sporting events to look forward to in our city this year. We’ve also got the Super Series Grand Final Triathlon coming to Sunderland for the first time in August and the Tour of Britain in September.”